RESOURCES: Green Marketing and Communications - Greenwashing

We hear about lots of greenwashing accusations, but what does it really mean?  What separates greenwashing from legitimate green marketing? 

We like EnviroMedia Social Marketing & The University of Oregon’s Greenwashing Index.  They allow the public to score ads based on 5 criteria (they are negative criteria so the higher the score, the worse the greenwashing offense).

The criteria are the following:

  1. The ad misleads with words:  This criteria asks the viewer, how believable are the claims the company is making? Focus on words only.
  2. The ad misleads with visuals:  Is the company using green or natural-looking images to make the product or producer seem more environmentally friendly?
  3. The ad makes a green claim that can’t be proven:  Does the ad make claims without explaining them fully, or explaining the rationale behind them?
  4. The ad overstates or exaggerates how green the product/organization is.  Does their assertion seem outlandish?
  5. The ad leaves out or masks important information.  Does the ad divert attention from something else the company does?  Is there a big impact missing from their claims?

The purpose of the Greenwashing Index is to educate consumers on how to see through greenwashed ads.  As a company, you can fit your own ads to the increasingly sophisticated market. 

Want more?  Check out our free webinar: Kermit is Dead:  Effective Messaging in the Maturing Green Market.