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November 25, 2014  |  Login
Greenwashing
Greenwashing is a form of corporate misrepresentation where a company will present a green public image and publicize green initiatives that are false or misleading. A company might release misleading claims or even true green initiatives while privately engaging in environmentally damaging practices. Companies are trying to take advantage of the growing public concern and awareness for environmental issues by promoting an environmentally responsible image. Greenwashing can help companies win over investors (especially those interested in socially responsible investing), create competitive advantage in the marketplace, and convince critics that the company is well-intentioned. There is a profit-driven motive to greenwashing as well— green products are among the fastest growing segments in the market and present a huge potential for growth. The increase in green advertising claims has become a cause for concern at the Federal Trade Commission, who planned to begin re-evaluation of existing green marketing guidelines in 2008.

Take corporate social responsibility reports with a grain of salt. If you have time, look at the company’s other business practices and see if they’re in line with the ideals and values espoused in their corporate responsibility statements. Numerous watchdog organizations (such as CorpWatch and TerraChoice) track the disparities between what a company says and what it does.

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