Bright Green Consumers and the Scourge of Greenwashing

Green gadget hounds on the riseA couple of news items I’ve come across lately regarding green consumers and the marketers that market to them:

First is a recent Forrestor Research study entitled “In Search of Green Technology Consumers” that find an increase in consumers the profess an active concern for the environment and a willingness to spend extra for green products from an environmentally conscious company. According to the research, 12% of Americans (25 million people) fall into this “bright green” category. That leaves 90 million (41%) that are concerned about the environmental, but not enough – at least yet – to spend extra for green products.

The remaining 47% don’t care or “believe in” environmental issues. Wal-Mart, shipped from China encased in lead – doesn’t matter. Cheaper is always better. It must be hard to breath with your head stuck in the sand all the time…

But I digress.

New Greenwashing Index for the New Year

The second item is a report from EnviroMedia announcing the launch of a new Greenwashing Index on Monday, January 7th. EnviroMedia encourages consumers to submit examples of print, online and TV ads, both “green” and “greenwash” for inclusion in their database.

The Federal Trade Commission will also begin reviewing their green marketing guidelines, starting with a forum on January 8th looking at how carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates are marketed.

Greenwashing isn’t just a concern here in the U.S. or Europe. 9 out of 10 delegates at the Bali Climate Conference believe some companies are “advertising products and services with environmental claims that could be considered false, unsubstantiated and/or unethical.”

With an increase in concern for environmental and sustainability issues from consumers, this is no time to dull the “bright green” luster of consumer awareness and activism.







Tom is the founder, editor, and publisher of and the TDS Environmental Media Network. He has been a contributor for Triple Pundit since 2007. Tom has also written for Slate, Earth911, the Pepsico Foundation, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, and many other sustainability-focused publications. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists

4 responses

  1. I witnessed one driver of a Ford Expedition give another driver of a Ford Expedition a set of “green” shopping bags for Christmas … you know, so that when they drive their Expeditions to the market they won’t waste bags.

  2. Well duh! Is it any wonder that companies are “greenwashing!!” Afterall, it’s all about the benjamins! The hot-trend right now is “green,” only because the market is soft and money is short, tired of reading about the band-wagon companies that pretend to be green, please write about something worth the while.
    I would love to read about real and promising companies individuals, the people that will actually make a difference and force the “fakers” to get on the right track.

  3. Well Duh? Okay. I guess I take the point, but there is more to this than just examples of greenwash marketers – if you read the post. The principal point is EnviroMedia’s upcoming index as a resource for consumer to try to avoid it, and to point out the bad marketing as well as the good ones.
    I know we all want “feel good” stuff here, but it’s a real world out there and most of us don’t have MBA’s from the Presidio School of Management as a basis for our attempts at taking a sustainable future seriously.
    I understand that perhaps most reading this blog do have the education, but I still think it is important to know how to protect ourselves as consumers and help peoplelike EnviroMedia develop ways to do that.
    I didn’t, in fact mention one “bandwagon” company pretending to be green, only ways that the public can both guard against it and promote honest green marketers. Which does seem to be on track with your last paragraph – though you obviously don’t think so. Oh well.

Leave a Reply