Gimme Some Truth: Green washing versus Sustainability

August 20, 2010

Nikos Avlonas President of the Centre for Sustainability & Excellence (CSE) North America and John Friedman, co-Founder of Sustainable Business Network of Washington (SBNOW) discuss ‘Green washing vs. Sustainability’ in continuation to a successful Roundtable on Green Marketing held in September in Washington, D.C.
Both experts discuss green washing in relation to organizations’ desires to appear green, people’s perceptions, and emerging demands for transparency.
Often green washing is not an outright attempt to be deceptive, but rather stems from failing to consider environmental impact measures with the same robust attention as is usually given to more established and familiar measures of business performance.

Green washing – making exaggerated environmental claims in order to curry consumer favor is one of the banes of the sustainability community. When a company that has been lauded for its environmental performance is revealed to be engaging in environmentally dangerous practices it provide skeptics with the fodder they need. Even when the claims are found to be inflated (or impossible to substantiate), credibility is lost. For a business model based on the paradigm that transparency leads to credibility, trust and ultimately market advantage, these incidents can be devastating.

Where do we sometimes go wrong?

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