Friday, March 2, 2012

It's All About The Green: Green Washing

Corporate Social Responsibility is one of the best things to happen to a company in a consumers eyes. Consumers want to be supporting a brand who cares about them and the world. A company willing to cut down its footprint on the earth gives the consumer a sense of pride. What about the company's eyes? Switching over to sustainable materials and reducing their foot print is a costly switch over. Many companies may be on board with CSR, but how many are claiming it for show?

What is Green Washing?

Well Websters online dictionary ( would describe it as

"expressions of environmentalist concerns especially as a cover for products, policies, or activities"

When it comes down to it, having the image of an environmentally friendly company who practices CSR is a huge profit booster.

Corporate Social Responsibility used to be pure in a sense. It was just know as Social responsibility. Profit was never the motive behind becoming socially responsible in the business world.

Dame Anita Roddick, owner of The Body Shop, who was one of the original business owners who focused on Social Responsibility before it became known as CSR.

A summary of what she said was that while people like her were so involved with making her growing business socially responsible, it had blown up in the corporate world. It was no longer just an ethical decision, it was a profit motivator. Being socially responsible had become corporate social responsibility. People had become more aware of company practices and sustaining the world they lived on. Corporate businesses jumped at the opportunity for profit growth and what was once purely motivated by ethics was now a money symbol.

Now it should be said not all companies are becoming socially responsible for profit, or even the ones that are aren't exactly bad. Green washing comes into play when those who say they are following environmentally friendly code of ethics, are not. These business's know what the market is pushing for, so they put up a cover. They falsify their ethics, mission statement and even claims by the company. Some green practices my be put into place but the number one motive is profit. If the company can get a green image and fool consumers, profit increases and ethics are the last thing on a businesses mind.

Green washing is a huge label. To be caught can brutally injure a company's image. If consumers question one misleading fact, they question it all.

A U.K. smoothy company "Innocent" claimed on their website, that all their smoothies were made in the UK. Over time they had switched to blending their drinks in Rotterdam the port where the fresh fruit was received, but still bottling in the UK. Fox had accused them of green washing when the simple truth was they had forgot to update their website. Pretty damaging news report for a company who was truly focused on being environmentally friendly.

Making sure a company has the same values you care about is no longer a simple task. Green washing has complicated the Corporate Social Responsible world.

Katie Makiewicz


Green Washing: Innocent or Guilty

Corporate Social Responsibility?

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