You may or may not have heard the term ‘greenwashing’, but it relates to a company or corporation that is sending the message that they are environmentally friendly, and the message is all hype. Greenpeace apparently coined the term when they caught on to some rather crafty marketing of a number of companies in the 1990’s. By all means, this type of thing was going on long before that time, but now there are watchdog organizations that will alert the public (and potential investors) to claims that are just wrong on many levels.

Over the last number of years we have seen quite a few television, magazine and online ads that were produced by the oil companies; portraying themselves as earth friendly. But did you ever think that the airline companies would be involved in this type of scam? In May, 2011, a group of some of the most well known environmental organizations which include Center for Biological Diversity, Earth Justice, Environment America, Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council brought United, American Airlines and Continental Airlines to task. They threw down the gauntlet due to the airlines efforts to get rid of the anti-pollution programs, while at the same time making braggart marketing claims about their own performance of excellence for the environment. Each airline company had top notch marketing programs around Earth Day, while they were in mid-lawsuit of the European Court of Justice to block the newly listed law that requires accountability of airlines for their contribution to global warming.

Corporations spend a lot of money working with marketing firms to wrap a green look around their non-green companies. Southern Company has invested in ads published in The Smithsonian to present the ‘clean coal’ view. Clean coal is an oxymoron, and doesn’t exist, however, instead of channeling the funds towards a real green project and attitude, they have spent enormous dollars trying to convince the general public that there is such a thing as ‘clean coal’ and by placing their ads in this prestigious magazine, the goal was to reach and appeal to the elite readers; those with the money and decision making power.

The National Restaurant Association has also jumped into ‘greenwashing’ by offering restaurants the ability to sign up for the ‘Greener Restaurants’ program that will show the public that they are making green efforts. The cost is $250 and simply requires an online sign up to check choice boxes showing that the restaurant participates in such environmentally friendly and conscious efforts as waste reduction, water conservation, energy efficiency, etc. There is no requirement to prove that these statements are true. The restaurant is included in the “Green Restaurant Finder” and can also display green certification from the National Restaurant Association. Greenpeace did a bit more investigation into The National Restaurant Association to find that they actually make political contributions to candidates that oppose environmentally friendly and encourage their candidates to vote no on green legislation. This is adding insult to injury and is truly one of the worst greenwashing efforts.


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