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What is “Whitewashing”? It’s defined as “a coordinated attempt to hide unpleasant facts, especially in a political context.” What is “Greenwashing”? It’s Greenwashing when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact. It’s whitewashing, but with a green brush.

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Greenwashing is the unjustified appropriation of environmental virtue by a company, an industry, a government, a politician or even a non-government organization to create a pro-environmental image, sell a product or a policy, or to try and rehabilitate their standing with the public and decision makers after being embroiled in controversy. Use of PR in a deceptive way.

The term was coined by New York environmentalist Jay Westervelt in a 1986 essay regarding the hotel industry’s practice. The term is used when significantly more money or time has been spent advertising being green, rather than spending resources on environmentally sound practices. Portrayed by changing the name or label of the product

E.g.: Earth Hour, Comcast ("PaperLESSisMORE" ), Poland Spring (ecoshape bottle), AirbusA380

What's wrong with Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is misleading
 advertising

legitimately labeled as "greenwashing" is dishonest, and that's a problem.

Can result in consumer and regulator complacency
 creation

of the illusion of environmental sustainability has dire social consequences

May also engender cynicism

which can irritate hands during and after washing. With unique ingredients developed at our Beijing Technical Center (this is where their detergent based chemical formulas are decided). Tide Naturals balances cleaning and mildness at a price 30% lower than regular Tide. most Indian consumers settle for the lowest priced powders. which leave gritty materials in the wash water that can be harsh to hands. launched Tide Naturals in India in December 2009. It also dissolves in water—unlike most competitive products in the low price range. And its unique scent containing natural oils offers an attractive benefit to Indian consumers that other low-cost detergents don’t.  P&G .Tide Naturals – Misleading???  According  About to P&G’s Annual Report: 80% of consumers in India—200 million households—wash their laundry by hand. With their extremely limited laundry detergent budgets.

P&G said that its entry-level detergent brand contains only fragrances of lemon and chandan and no natural ingredients as suggested by its name. In an affidavit submitted to the Madras High Court. commercials) for Tide Naturals to clarify prominently to consumers that the detergent does not contain anything natural as its name suggests.Time to unfold some Secrets????  Procter & Gamble (P&G) admitted that its low-priced detergent brand Tide Naturals contains no "natural" ingredients (no natural oils).    . It also confirmed that it adds synthetic compounds to bring out the fresh smell of lime and sandal The Madras High Court on March 1 issued an order to P&G to modify its advertising (T.V.

” . Consumers rate the ad!!! It generates a score based on consumer’s response based on certain statements. The ad misleads with:  Words  Visuals A    and/or graphics green claim that is vague and cannot be proved or exaggerates how green the product/company/service actually is  Overstates  Leaves out or masks important information. High scores are undesirable (for the advertiser).Greenwashing Index  It is promoted by EnviroMedia Social Marketing with the help of University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. making the green claim sound better than it is  Goal: To educate consumers how to “read” an ad and encourage them to decide “what they are seeing is greenwashing.

 The accused:  Kraft's  The Post Selects Cereals Council for Biotechnology Information Trace  Comanche  Clairol  General Motors .“Don’t be Fooled”  This is a report A joint effort by and Earth Day Resources which accuses corporations of deceiving consumers with false claims of environmental responsibility and all-natural wholesomeness.

such as non-government organisations. Why are organisations attracted to engage in greenwashing?   Attempting to divert the attention of regulators and deflating pressure for regulatory change Seeking to persuade critics. that they are both well-intentioned and have changed their ways Seeking to expand market share at the expense of those rivals not involved in greenwashing Reducing staff turnover and making it easier to attract staff in the first place Making the company seem attractive for potential investors     .TerraChoice  Conducted a study: Almost all of environmental claims made for consumer products are false or misleading.

Since 2009. the number of “greener” products has gone up by 73%    . Consumers are creating a gradually greener retail world.The Sins of Greenwashing  Scrutiny of environmental claims will be positive only as long as it manages to discourage greenwashing while simultaneously encouraging more and more green product innovation and commercialization. Consumers are offering companies both a carrot and a stick.

Findings from the Report  Consumers are changing the world for the better. and sometimes part of the problem  Fake labels has increased dramatically  BPA + phthalate-related claims are skyrocketing  BPA (577%) & phthalate (2550%) .  Categories that have more experience with “greening” have 5 times more “sin-free” products  Big Box stores are gentle green giants  Consumers can trust big box stores  Eco-labeling is an important solution.  Proportion of sin-free products appears to have doubled in each of the last two years (2007-2010)  Companies improve with practice.


The 7 Sins of Greenwashing 1) Sin of the Hidden Trade-off 2) Sin of No Proof 3) Sin of Vagueness 4) Sin of Irrelevance 5) Sin of Lesser of Two Evils 6) Sin of Fibbing 7) Sin of Worshiping .

greenwashing years) is changing (trends in sins) .Percentages (7 Sins) FINDINGS 1) Greenwashing is still a significant problem (95% of greener products commit one or more of the 7 sins ) 2) But. greenwashing is declining (the number of sin-free products appears to have doubled in each of the last two 3) And.

Companies Improve with Practice FINDINGS 1) Growth continues in the long-term (greener product offerings in the mature categories increased by an average of 104. Tissue products are an .8% in mature categories while only 13.3%) 2) Use of legitimate certification increases with maturity (average frequency of 28.3% in immature categories.1% sinfree products in mature categories and 0.8% in immature 3) Greenwashing declines categories) with experience (5.

8% Specialty stores: 11.Gentle Green Giants FINDING S Big box stores: 22.8% Advantage: Combination of the scrutiny they receive and their power over their supply chains .5% Green Boutiques: 12.

Eco-labeling (Problem + Solution) FINDINGS 1) Legitimate green standards help fight greenwashing (good ecolabeling helps prevent (but doesn’t eliminate) greenwashing) 2) False Eco-labeling is increasing (32% greener products carried fake labels compared to 26.8% in 2009) 3) False labels are a dime a dozen Environmental standards and certification will be essential to continuing progress in “greener” .

10% Phthalate-free claim) WHAT’S A GREEN MOM TO DO? 1) Support “green” products whenever you can 2) Choose the green product that offers the best proof .BPA + Phthalate SKYROCKETIN G CLAIMS 1) BPA-free 577% & Phthalatefree 2550% 2) Two-thirds of these claims appear on toys and baby products (44% BPA-free claim.

FINDINGS 1) Very high rates of growth of “greener” product offerings (greener toy offerings 150% and green baby products 194% 2) More greenwashing (less than 1% are sin-free: no single sin-free green toy & only 0.8% sin-free green baby products) 3) Lack of evidence (89% of greener baby toys and products commit this sin) 4) BPA and Phthalates .

Coal 2. Toys 25.The Top 25 Green washed Products in America               1. Tampons and Sanitary pads   19. Dairy 18. Soft Drinks 5. Disposable Diapers 13. Mattresses 9. Air Travel . Hotels  16. Household Cleaning Products       15. Snacks 14. Meat 23. Clothes 3. Laundry Detergents 10. Gas 6. Pet Food 11. Home Appliances 21. Fur 17. Breakfast Cereals 20. Biofuel 8. Paper Products 12. Software  24. Bottled Water 4. Personal Care and Beauty  22. Cars 7.

House-hold cleaning products FINDINGS 1) Different rates of growth 2) Greenwashing varies 3) Vagueness is the most common problem 4) Good use of legitimate certification .

DIY Building/ Construction Products FINDINGS 1) Very strong “green” growth 2) Less greenwashing 3) “Hidden trade-offs” are unusually common 4) Improved use of legitimate standards .

Consumer Electronics FINDINGS 1) Still relatively slow green growth 2) High rate of greenwashing 3)False labels a particular problem .

and hydrogen power methods. Continuing to promote coal as a clean energy source is contemptible when you compare it with wind.COAL  The term “clean coal” is more of a collective guilt assuager than an environmental fact. water. Coal is not sustainable. The burning of coal emits millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.    . Fact is. solar. there’s nothing clean or “new” about coal.

Banana Republic launched an “It’s Easy Being Green” promotion that requires using their reusable bag to get 10 percent off your purchases. They also made suspicious claims about manufacturing their clothing “using an environmentally friendly process that retains the natural antimicrobial properties of the bamboo plant and (being) biodegradable.   Also in 2009.”  according to the FTC. denying smart eco-minded shoppers who  brought their own. and especially not when Banana Republic is manufacturing thousands of bags made from conventional cotton that takes  tons of pesticides to produce. Not always so. The manufacturers advertised their rayon clothing as “bamboo fiber” clothing (rayon consists of fibers processed with toxic carbon disulfide. BR also required consumers to buy a new bag to be part of the promotion.CLOTHES  The FTC charged bamboo clothing manufacturers with making false green claims. It is bamboo fiber’s drugaddled step-cousin).    .

the most-imported brand in America .   . the Polaris Institute and Ecojustice.Bottled water  Industry giants like Nestlé and Fiji. are lining up for a fresh coat of green to stay in the ecominded dollar game. Nestlé’s repeated claims that “bottled water is the most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world” have garnered complaints filed under the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards by the Friends of the Earth Canada. deserves a Shady Water Company award. FIJI water.

Typhoid outbreaks are common on the island. the island of Fiji’s military junta protects the brand at the expense of Fijian citizens. Yet Americans–including celebrities and Barack Obama–continue to guzzle the stuff. thanks in part to pretty packaging and a $5 million “Fiji Green” marketing campaign. The company uses plastic made in Chinese dieselpowered plants to produce its thick rectangular bottles. For one.     . Most people in Fiji don’t have safe drinking water. thanks to FIJI’s habit of exporting it.

BP’s redesigned logo is one notorious example. Even as they claim to be concerned about emissions—they speak frequently about their efforts to develop “clean energy” sources–they continue to pull out of renewable research. The green stylized flower suggests that BP is a company that is both environmentally friendly and responsible.Gas  Energy companies are some of the worst offenders in the green sheen game.   . even their own previous investments in renewable energy.

  .S. you have to sleep on something flame retardant. since the U. By law.” Chemical-free mattresses might be a pipe dream. Consumer Product Safety Commission instituted the national open-flame mattress flammability standard  that went into effect in 2007.” One company even claims that on their mattresses. you “sleep closer to nature.” “natural” and “organic.Mattresses  The mattress industry is filled with confusing terms like “eco-friendly. Most companies accomplish this with chemicals. though  some use rayon-based fiber pads as a flame barrier.

  . Textiles such as rayon and bamboo. not to mention the workers exposed to those substances. however. It also requires heavy irrigation. are pulped and imbued with hazardous chemicals that include caustic soda and sulphuric acid.Mattresses  Some companies use cotton. while created from renewable resources. taxing local water supplies. soy and bamboo-based faoms in their “green” mattress lines. The process impacts the sensitive regions where these trees and grasses are harvested. Cotton. is the world’s most pesticide-intensive crop.

Although organic cotton is “included” in the outer cover.Disposable Diapers  Huggies’ Pure and Natural line goes invites consumers to discover the “pure bliss of a diaper that includes gentle.” But parents may be too sleepdeprived to see what’s lurking beyond the leaves and smiling baby on the package. the actual organic content remains a mystery.   . natural materials.

which actually touches the baby’s skin. Huggies also does not sell a single biodegradable diaper. True eco-companies are going big by using 100% and using unbleached cotton in their baby products.Disposable Diapers  the diapers also don’t include organic cotton on the inside surface of the diaper.  .

Those “natural” products may not contain pesticides. the country’s largest dairy company.” an unregulated. genetically modified crud for feed. Dean downgraded several well-established Horizon products from organic to “natural. but the cows behind them may well dine on pesticide-laden. relatively meaningless term. One of the most famous cases of dairy greenwashing involves Dean Foods.dairy  Dairy products fall victim to the “all-natural” curse. It pulled green bait-andswitch its Silk and Horizon-brand products.   .

they stealthily removed the word “organic” from the packaging without making any other changes. like a GREEN NINJA. prompting national retailers like Target. Habituated consumers continued to pay extra for products that used to be organic.  . to mislabel nonorganic dairy products as organic. Instead.dairy  Dean didn’t inform major retailers of the switch.

potatoes. Cereal maker Kraft. and soy in its morning treats. antioxidants and fiber. produces a Natural Advantage line of cereal that includes “antioxidants” and “natural fiber. as well as milk products from rBGH (growth hormone)-treated cows.   . But those Vitamin C-packed berries may also contain pesticide residue.cereals  Cereal boxes are tattooed with claims of vitamins.” Yet the company uses genetically modified corn. for example.

Home APPLIANCES  In a recent campaign. GE claimed that they can reduce a family’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions through GE technologies and household appliances. or how many of their appliances are needed to see a measurable reduction.   . that tree isn’t saying if GE’s manufacturing operations are helping to deliver a carbon-neutralized appliance to your home. GE didn’t share how much their appliances contribute to reducing monthly energy costs per home. For some reason. And while the image of a tree hugging a house in their commercial plays into a consumer’s eco-conscience.

But lauryl sulfate.Personal Care and Beauty  Take Clairol’s  Herbal Essences. . 33 aren’t really that organic. propylene glycol and D&C red no. It has claimed a “truly organic experience” in the past.

the company pushed users to buy a new computer to run Windows 7 No wonder Windows 7 didn’t win Microsoft any  green awards. including a low-light setting for your monitor. Microsoft added some minor powersaving features to its new Windows 7. Big companies like Microsoft and Oracle are releasing products to help oil. At the same time. As a result.   . gas. and utilities companies cut power usage and estimate emissions. Last year.SOFTWARE  IT spending isn’t what it was 10 years ago. many software vendors are trying on a coat of green to bolster their reputations.

They invited customers to buy Toys ‘R’ Us-branded reusable shopping bags.   .S. They also changed their signature “R” to include a recycle symbol a store-branded reusable bag isn’t what parents are looking for. Toy giant Toys ‘R’ Us recently tried to cash in on increased awareness thing without actually detoxing their toys. Widespread toy recalls in Europe and the U. have also pushed toymakers into greening their operations. or further damage the planet. They want toys that won’t poison their kids. harm the workers making them.Toys  Parents are willing to spend more on items that they feel will  keep lead paint and cadmium out of their child’s toy box.


We are sitting on maybe 1.000 Bhopals .


they are in. it may be good PR Once they see savings. Innovation CII-ITC Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Development     . they are quite resistant.Are companies resistant to adopting cleaner. greener processes?  Large industries more or less quite understand it makes business sense At first. Sustainability has moved from being a regulatory issue to a management issue to a business issue (opportunities) to a core strategic issue. then they say.

which aware consumers will buy CII-ITC Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Development   . one which companies can apply for voluntarily. consumption has to change. a label. are there takers?  the market in India’s not so mature right now. over a period of time. it’s a long process sustainability mark.Can sustainability be a bargaining chip for higher prices. you know. where they have these organic sections consumer awareness has to grow. We only see it in some of the retail shops.

It was like an onoff switch. no grading. greener processes?  Government endorsement will be very important here. it wasn’t like a company could go up after being at grade 1 or 2 for a period of time CII-ITC Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Development .Are companies resistant to adopting cleaner. an administratively cumbersome scheme. it must enable all this to happen. It tried an Ecomark scheme 15-16 years ago. it didn’t succeed.

where there’s the PE ratio. sustainable stakeholder value. There are no metrics to measure how.  over a period of time is as a company how am I generating social value. We have to make sure any kind of statements from the company should be backed by credible data. unlike financial value. Ads are a good beginning but shouldn’t be all PR. debt equity ratio. market cap and such.advertising for environmentally-conscious products. CII-ITC Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Development  .

e-choupal.  .benefits of sustainability  New markets -  such as the ones for Godrej Chotukool ITC’s farm forestry initiative.

“once economically viable technical solutions” exist This is a clear case of one of the 7 sins of greenwashing Desktop sales of HCL lead to distribution of several million kilos of plastic and electronic components that contained PVC.What about greenwashing in India?? CASE 1: HCL (2007)  “Shame HCL ” protest by Greenpeace activists at the company’s headquarters in Noida Demand: Company make clear and binding commitments to green its operations. Stop using hazardous chemicals in its products Company’s claim on its website: “striving to phase out PVC and BFRs. lead and BFRs. These toxins can cause severe health problems     .

cadmium and chromium Coca cola pledged to spend $20 million to conserve seven of the world’s most critical river basins. But does it really mean “green” to the environment?    .CASE 2: Coca Cola (2007)   Company’s claim: To protect rivers on four continents Charges by India Resource Center: Release of untreated wastewater into surrounding agricultural fields and a canal that feeds into the Ganges River in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh In 2003 Central Pollution Board of India found that sludge at Coca Cola factories contained high level of toxic heavy metals like lead.

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