corporations, even as early as the 1980s when the term “greenwashing” gained popular usage as a neologism to describe seedy corporate tactics, to advertise products as “green”, exploiting corporate social responsibility and corporate ethics as a means of promoting one’s products and services as more altruistic (or ethical) than those of competitors.
From the perspective of the corporation, greenwashing is advantageous for those in one’s target market because it gives an additional selling point. Even if the greenwash is an exaggeration, rather than an outright lie, the marketing of that product is able to create a short- and long-term benefit scheme with which to sell the product. However, a corporation facing the accusation of greenwashing can quickly find itself in a public relations feud with environmental groups that are increasingly loud and vocal with those sympathetic with what it is trying to achieve. Additionally, because of the prevalence of greenwashing in American industries, it is likely environmental marketing groups like TerraChoice and ENN are set on making an example of demonizing corporations accused of greenwashing their products and services, due to the prevalence of the practice among primary competitors in most industries. Therefore, responding to an accusation of greenwashing from consumer or environmental interest groups is a tricky situation no corporation should underestimate, especially given the increasing weight the value of environmental sustainability is being given in the new “green economy”.
What defines the concept of a greenwash, however, might befuddle some in-house marketers, advertisers, and public relations people for a loop both in understanding the nature of acceptable practices in product promotion and in the proper response to an accusation of such fraud. Irrefutably, the best way of preventing an accusation of an act is no consciously avoid committing such an act in the first place; but, of course, it is