Public relations in the twenty first century demand of organizations to show that they take their corporate social responsibilities seriously. Greenwashing, a term derived from whitewashing, refers to the fact that organizations are being untruthful in their claims to go green.
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According to Walsh (2009), when an environmental marketing company, TerraChoice, set out to evaluate such claims in a retail store, “[t]he results were startling: of the 1,018 products TerraChoice surveyed, all but one failed to live up fully to their green boasts. Words like nontoxic were used in meaninglessly vague ways... ” Organizations make the untruthful claim of going green all the way in order to attract customers and/or investors who are concerned about media reports on environmental degradation published around the world.
Szili & Rofe (2007) write about another instance of greenwashing. Port Adelaide in Australia is being redeveloped into a cosmopolitan center. As investors are invited to participate in its redevelopment, marketing materials make regular references to remediation of the environment. Yet, Szili & Rofe note that the new Port Adelaide would not be responsible for improving the environment at all (pp. 365-367). Indeed, it is just another false assertion to make money and build goodwill. All greenwashing efforts are geared to accomplish these purposes alone. References
Szili, G. , & Rofe, M. E. (2007, Sep). Greening Port Misery: Marketing the Green Face of Waterfront Redevelopment in Port Adelaide, South Australia. Urban Policy and Research 25(3): pp. 363-384. Tokar, B. (1997). Earth for Sale: Reclaiming Ecology in the Age of Corporate Greenwash. Cambridge, MA: South End Press. Walsh, B. (2009, Sep 28). Eco-Buyer Beware. Time 172(12). Retrieved Mar 23, 2009, from EBSCOHost database. Whellams, M. , & MacDonald, C. Greenwashing. Business Ethics. Retrieved Mar 23, 2009, from http://www. businessethics
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