J500 Media and the Environment

Greenwashing Frustration by beccan

We’ve all done it. While walking through Target we see two products in the same aisle, one with “natural” written across the label and the other well, without. Of course we pick the one that says natural to place in our basket, because natural is better, right? Maybe not…

Greenwashing is when companies mislead consumers into buying a product because it claims to be environmentally-friendly, natural or organic when in reality it probably isn’t. The seven greenwashing sins explains the details and “sins” of greenwashing. I was curious and wanted to know the products that were greenwashed so I did more research and came across this article with the top-ten greenwashed campaigns of 2009. I was shocked. It included leading companies like Audi, Coca-Cola and Microsoft. I was interested in the Audi campaign because of my post last week about the Audi Green Police commercial that aired during the Superbowl. This Audi advertisement, though, compares driving an Audi A3 to riding a bike. I thought Audi was doing a good job in making their vehicles more eco-friendly, but maybe I was just too naïve.

The car that eliminates any need for foreign oil is foreign made. Audi may need to re-think how eco-friendly it really is.


Researching this made me so angry. Why are advertisers getting away with this? The morals of these companies are plummeting and nobody seems to care. I felt mistrust in the very companies and brands that I have been loyal to my whole life. My frustration fizzled slightly at least when I found this article that said the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is revamping its environmental marketing guidelines for the first time in twelve years. It’s about time that this deception comes to an end.

Until the FTC updates its greenwashing guidelines, I wanted some sort of set of rules to follow to help decipher between fraud and true eco-friendly products. The FTC recommends following these guidelines while shopping and attempting to distinguish between eco-friendly and eco-fraud.

Being a strategic communications major, I am embarrassed that companies are advertising like this and knowingly selling products that make false claims.It is everything that I have been taught not to do in my past four years in the school of journalism at the Universtiy of Kansas. We put trust in the companies we buy from and if these companies are lying to us about being eco-friendly, are they lying to us about other aspects of the company? This has become a huge problem and it is about time that it is fixed.

Becca N.


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[…] Greenwashing Frustration […]

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I am curious… do you think that those companies are taking “green baby steps” in the right direction, as many people said in class? Or after reading that article do you think they are just liars? Or both? -Kristina B.

Comment by kristinabev

Thanks for the comment.
I think that there is a very fine line between lying and “baby steps”. We have to face the fact at some point that consumers are not going to stop buying cars (at least for a while), so car companies are at least doing their best to make a little less of an impact on earth. I don’t think that those cases are necessarily lies, but efforts, which I am okay with. I think that I understand these “baby steps”, because I am still in the beginning stages (“baby steps”) of environmentalism myself.
Becca N.

Comment by beccan

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