Definition of green washing

Green washing is the overstating of the environmentally or socially conscious attributes of a firm’s offering and the understating of the negative attributes for the firm’s benefit.

Green washing can be explicit or implicit and can be expressed in many forms, including pictures, direct claims in text, symbols, labels, or even partnerships or relationships. These claims can be made in press releases, advertisements, on websites and even on the products themselves.

• A chicken producer labels its products on store shelves as “all natural” despite the fact the company treats its chickens with antibiotics.

• Plastic disposable water bottles presented as eco-friendly because they use less plastic.

• An oil company rebranded itself as moving into renewable energy in television ads and, based on our calculations, only 0.25% of the company's energy production is through alternative energies. [1]

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