Thursday, February 12, 2009

Love those car companies…

Greenwashing: the exaggeration, absurd claims or downright lies that big business makes about its green credentials. There are many definitions of greenwashing out there but that's my favourite – succinct and powerful - from Fred Pearce at the Guardian.

As the major American car companies face bankruptcy, we are witness to a barrage of greenwashing, in their ads, in their PR and from their CEOs. "There is a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hand, saying that they're going to be trimming down and streamlining their businesses," Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York, told the chief executive officers of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee. "It's almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo. It kind of makes you a little bit suspicious." He added, "couldn't you all have downgraded to first class or jet-pooled or something to get here? It would have at least sent a message that you do get it."

Well, that’s what greenwashing is, people who don’t get it pretending that they do. How to tell the good guys from the bad guys? In Canada, we can do that through the Eco Logo program, which provides ‘third party certification of environmentally-preferable products’. Environmental Lawyer Diane Saxe has a comprehensive article “What does ‘green’ mean?” with lots of information and references.

Love to hate greenwashing? Send me your best examples, and I’ll post a selection of the most egregious.

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