Preventing Greenwashing

With the rise of environmental awareness among businesses and consumers alike comes a rise of greenwashing -- intentional or not. But a new report from Business for Social Responsibility and Futerra Sustainability Communications aims to help companies avoid those mistakes.

The new report, "Understanding and Preventing Greenwash: A Business Guide," lays out a "greenwash matrix" of the different types of poor communication about corporate environmental activities, and explores the ways firms can move toward messages that more clearly explain their green works.

The report also includes a list of the top 10 "signs of greenwash" to help companies avoid making any unintentional mistakes. Those signs are:
1. Fluffy language. Words or terms with no clear meaning (e.g. "eco-friendly").
2. Green product vs. dirty company. Such as efficient lightbulbs made in a factory that pollutes rivers.
3. Suggestive pictures. Green images that indicate a (unjustified) green impact (e.g. flowers blooming from exhaust pipes).
4. Irrelevant claims. Emphasizing one tiny green attribute when everything else is not green.
5. Best in class. Declaring you are slightly greener than the rest, even if the rest are pretty terrible.
6. Just not credible. "Eco friendly" cigarettes, anyone? "Greening" a dangerous product doesn't make it safe.
7. Jargon. Information that only a scientist could check or understand.
8. Imaginary friends. A "label" that looks like third party endorsement -- except that it's made up.
9. No proof. It could be right, but where's the evidence?
10. Out-right lying. Totally fabricated claims or data.

To read the full report, click here

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