It is a well-known fact that companies are not always truthful and forthcoming about the information that they provide to the public about what is in their products. A product that is advertised and labelled as being eco-friendly may in fact not be any more environmentally friendly than its competitor’s product, but the company has decided to label it as such in order to meet the growing demand for these products. The market is flooded with products that are being labelled as “green” or “eco-friendly” products due to a high demand for such products. Consumers are more aware of the effects that their purchases are having on the environment, so they are looking for more environmentally friendly products. Companies recognize this demand and try to meet the demand.
Many consumers are unaware of the standards and criteria that would qualify these products as actually being legitimately eco-friendly products, which results in consumers purchasing products that may or may not be what they claim to be. The products are often labelled in a way that can be misleading, confusing and dishonest about the environmental friendliness of the product. “This phenomenon is known as greenwashing which refers to the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental beneﬁts of a product or service” (Schmuck, Matthes, Naderer, 2018, p 127).
Greenwashing is dangerous from a business perspective because it causes consumers to have a lack of trust in the products across the board because they cannot tell the real from the fake claims. This causes consumers to give up on the products all together and will drive sales down. “As a result, the dishonest attempts of companies to promote the environmental qualities of their products can undermine consumers’ conﬁdence in green advertising” (Schmuck, Matthes, Naderer, 2018, p. 127-128). If people don’t trust the claims of the advertising, they will begin to write off all the claims as not credible, even if the products are legitimately environmentally friendly.
If I was a marketing executive, I would have a policy against greenwashing. I believe that as a company your consumers are looking for transparency, honesty, and authenticity. As a company if you lose the trust of the consumer that is a downward spiral from there. Greenwashing is a practice that will cause consumers to lose trust in your company and discredit your company.
Schmuck, D., Matthes, J., & Naderer, B. (2018). Misleading Consumers with Green Advertising? An Affect–Reason–Involvement Account of Greenwashing Effects in Environmental Advertising. Journal of Advertising, 47(2), 127–145. https://doi-org.proxy-library.ashford.edu/10.1080/00913367.2018.1452652
Greenwashing is a term used to define misleading information to the consumer about businesses producing products that help the environment which in reality is not. From a business perspective, some of the dangers of greenwashing are a bad reputation. Millar states that “False green claims are most common in children’s toys, cosmetics, and cleaning products” (2012, para. 7). Many businesses are jumping on the bandwagon and producing green products, but at the same time resources are increasing to educate consumers to make wise choices when it comes to selecting and purchasing green products. Even though there are resources for consumers to educate themselves on what they are purchasing, many don’t really care. One easy way for consumers to check their products to see if it has been greenwashed is, through “a more open-source model, the newly launched ethicalocean.com allows users to shop by ethic (eco-friendly, fairly-traded, organic, animal-friendly, etc.)”(Millar, 2003), The media show, states that many business use environmental marketing logos or advertisements and many advertisement materials to let consumers know that they are environmentally savvy, but in reality they are not, (2009). It’s easy for a business to look sustainable, but in reality, they are not, their products are not made to be green, just look green.
Greenwashing has been defined as the Six Sins of Greenwashing, which are: 1. The sin of the hidden trade-off. 2. The sin of no proof, 3. The sin of vagueness, 4. The sin of irrelevance, 5. The sin of lesser of two evil, 6. The sin of fibbing (2007). From a business perspective, it’s important to follow through what is being promised to the consumer. Horiuchi, Schuchard, Shea & Townsend states, that because the demand for eco-friendly products continues to increase, so then does greenwash from companies trying to meet that demand. (Horiuchi, Schuchard, Shea & Townsend, 2009).
As a marketing executive, the policy in place against greenwashing would be for their products being offered to the consumer be tested to make sure that what’s on the label is nothing but the honest truth.
Greenwashing – the media show. (2009, November 9). Youtube.com. Retrieved August 12, 2019, from
Horiuchi, R., Schuchard, R., Shea, L. & Townsend, S. (2009, July). Understanding and
preventing greenwash: A business guide. Futerra Sustainability Communications,
BSR. Retrieved August 12, 2019, from
Millar, E. (2012, August 23). How not to get greenwashed. Thomson Reuters Limited.
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