Greenwashing Earth Day – Advertisers, We Are Not That Dumb Anymore.


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After writing about what I thought would be a proper way to celebrate Earth Day this year and every year, I started really paying attention to all the ads and press releases I had been getting this past week about “being green” in honor of Earth Day 2008. Seems advertisers still think we are quite dumb in that they are trying to either:

A. Market and sell their existing product as being green, even though it is the same thing they have always sold.


B. Market and sell us something that we don’t need at all, in an attempt to cash in on the new green marketplace. There is a big difference between buying a green version of something that you actually need versus buying something you don’t need at all just in an effort to be “more” green.

So what are some examples of the types of ads and press releases I had been getting and/or reading during the past week?

50% off the Home EcoPod Recycling System. You know why it is 50% off? Because people saw right through this waste of money. This is not to say that the company selling it isn’t green, but the product definitely is not.

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity campaigns as a non-profit entity for new “clean coal”. The problem is, is that they are in fact basically a subsidiary of the coal industry, supported by the likes of ALCOA, American Electric Power, CSX, Detroit Edison, Duke Energy, Peabody Energy, Southern Company and Union Pacific Railroad. According to Greenpeace, their idea of “clean coal” is almost impossible to implement, could take 30 years, and cost billions of dollars. Seems they just want to keep burning that coal as-is.

A certain company known for making paper plates
is running ads on TV that say that using their paper plates instead of reusable plates will give moms more time to spend with their kids instead of doing dishes and wasting water. Too bad all those dishes will go into a landfill only to cause a problem for your kids to handle when they are 40. Now that is putting kids first!

Stores like Macy’s giving out “natural” cotton bags (Um, Macy’s – all cotton is natural. It’s how it is grown that concerns people) if you buy $X amount of products at the store. How is that green? How about charging $1.00 for the bags and donating the money? If people have to buy $X amount of goods to get a free bag, they would be more “green” just buying a bag somewhere else and not the goods.

Plastic single-use water bottles being marketed as eco-friendly, when nothing could be further from the truth no matter how much less plastic they use. Not only is plastic made from oil, but only 34% of it gets recycled in the U.S., leaving 66% sitting in landfills taking a very long time to disintegrate.

And thanks to my friend Maria at SmallRedHouse, here comes Eco-Barbie.

Have you seen any examples of greenwashing this past week? Let me know in the comments!

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