Ask Ignacio: Greenwash

Winter 2013

"One of the products in my bathroom says 'green,' what does that mean?"


Gather 'round friends, for the story of Greenwash.

So Greenwash, what is it?

Greenwash is basically portraying a product or service as good for the environment, when it isn't.

Basically, it's a deception!

Greenwashers prey upon our desires to do good in the world. To the guy who says "this toilet paper says it's green and it's a little more expensive, but I can afford it and it will make some positive difference."

This poor sucker, I will protect him!

I don't want you to get the wrong idea, I'm not saying don't buy environmentally preferable products. Something Sustainable is something which can be sustained, meaning can go on forever. It is an important concept, but that is exactly what it is, a concept.

So I pose to you, "what is in a name?"
Is a guy named Darth Rodriguez necessarily a Sith lord? No right, ask yourself what Sith behaviours does he have? What makes him Sith? Just because people call you Darth, it doesn't mean you are a Sith.

Similarly, a product saying it is green or sustainable is meaningless unless it states (or you can google) how?

If a paper product can say "Sustainable," ask yourself "sustainable how?"

  • Is it made of recycled paper?
  • Were the trees sustainably farmed?
  • Is the paper made of trees at all?
  • Is the paper made of some industrial by-product?
  • What certifications does it have? What do the certifications mean?

Always ask yourself "why?"

Some cases are more heinous than others. A small part of me dies when I hear "Clean Coal." Aaaarrrrrgh! There you go, a little deader. At this point I have one foot in the grave and one on the proverbial banana peel.

So what can you do?
Know which words have substance behind them, and which don't!

Before I get angry emails! There are always exceptions. There are many products I haven't covered. These are just a few rules of thumb.

I know some of this sustainability stuff sounds tedious, but it's just like anything else.

Don't let them punk you!

Be Strong,