Truth and lies in green advertising

A few years ago, green was just a color, not a movement or a way of life. Now many people are “going green,” which means they are making an effort to be more environmentally conscious by using products that claim to be green.

These alternative products tend to be more expensive, all for the sake of saving the environment. The origin of the word “green” is closely linked to the Old English verb “growan,” which means, “to grow.” Does green really mean growth in today’s society?

Because of the recent industrial trend of “going green”, there has been a phenomenon called “greenwashing,” which is a term spun-off from “whitewashing” (a coordinated attempt to hide unpleasant facts, especially in a political context). According to, greenwashing is the same premise as whitewashing, but in an environmental context.

Greenwashing Index’s mission is to “keep advertising honest” by having people rate products in terms of the products’ eco-friendly claims. Greenwashing Index’s rating system is entirely based on public input. The site encourages people to rate ads of products and services based on the use of misleading words or graphics.

The website shows companies that are authentic in their claims, such as O.B., which delivers on its claim to save waste by eliminating the applicator on its tampons. Other products, however, are dismissed as ridiculous, such as Ortho, an “eco-friendly” insect killer.

As ridiculous as it can be, greenwashing is far from a joke. Greenpeace, a non-governmental environmental organization, is campaigning to bring awareness to the greenwashing of products and services with their project

“Some businesses are genuinely committed to making the world a better, greener place. But for far too many others, environmentalism is little more than a convenient slogan,” says the introduction to

Throughout the organization’s website, readers can find many resources concerning greenwashing and even examples of ads that Greenpeace deemed as inauthentic. One such ad is a Walmart commercial that features two girls in a field of flowers. They talk about how their cotton t-shirts are also partially made out of recycled plastic bottles.

Much like promises of effective weight loss and instant beautification, many claims of being eco-friendly are only gimmicks. Painting a product with a green brushstroke isn’t going to help it save the world. Buying “green” products doesn’t make someone an activist. Consumers should not let themselves be fooled by the dazzling greenery of a package or the pretty, reassuring words on the labels. Closely examine each “green” product to see its true color.