No doubt you’ve all heard of the term “whitewashing”—but did you ever hear of “greenwashing?” It has almost the same meaning as whitewashing except it’s applied to an environmental context. It’s when a company purports to be green but in reality, is anything but that. Or to phrase it differently, all assumptions of “greenness” are greatly exaggerated.
EnviroMedia Social Marketing, a 10-year-old social marketing firm that works exclusively on environmental and health issues, is asking consumers to send them (via their website at www.enviromedia.com) examples of companies that have launched good—and bad—green marketing campaigns. The ads, drawn from TV, print or online, will be ranked on the new EnviroMedia Greenwashing Index.
Says EnviroMedia CEO Valerie Davis, “We’re calling for an end to greenwashing…This new Web site is the world’s first interactive online forum for educating consumers on the criteria for recognizing greenwashing. It’s our hope consumers will know greenwashing when they see it, and that this will compel companies to strive for true green improvements that make their environmental marketing more genuine.”
To coincide with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s “Eco in the Market” forum in Washington D.C. where the topic will be on environmental marketing, EnviroMedia will unveil on January 7, 2008, a day before the confab, consumer greenwashing submissions and its ranking on their Greenwashing index. What’s interesting to note is that in light of the boom in green advertising, the FTC has announced that it will undergo a one-year review of its “environmental marketing guidelines.”