Essay On Greenwashing

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A negative word originating from the term “whitewashing”, “greenwashing” was originally coined in 1986, by New York environmentalist Jay Westervelt, and was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 1999. The term was originally only used to describe misrepresentative instances of advertising, but as advertising grew more diversified, so did the definition of greenwashing. It is now used to describe the efforts corporations go to in order to portray themselves as more environmentally friendly than they actually are, which include, but are not limited to, event sponsorship, environmental reporting, the creation of a front group, or the distribution of educational materials. For most corporations, however, the main objective of greenwashing is to give consumers the impression they are taking steps to reduce, or manage, their ecological footprint, without having to sacrifice their bottom line. In this essay, I will explain and discuss greenwashing, with a focus on how Public Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility are influential factors in driving a company to greenwash, while proving that the above claims regarding greenwashing are valid. Ford Motor Company announced the launch of the Escape Hybrid SUV in a National Geographic magazine in 2004, with one ad reading; “Green vehicles. Cleaner factories. It is the right road for our company, and we’re well underway”. They continued to try and persuade readers of their commitment to the environment with the remodelling of their River Rouge factory, but they failed to mention that only 20,000 of these promised Hybrid SUVs would be produced per year, or that they would continue to commission almost 80,000 F-series trucks a month. Additionally, a short time before the ads release, the Envir... ... middle of paper ... ...nsumers wanting corporations to be social responsible, yet as companies are driven by profits, many do not see the long-term goal of becoming more environmentally responsible, opting for short-term fixes, such greenwashing with their PR portraying a green image that is not necessarily a representation of the facts. A number of companies have now committed to producing annual social reports, which can be seen as a step towards the inevitable movement towards greater transiency and disclosure within business. NGO’s have widely dismissed these, however, as “PR exercise” and “greenwashing”, but the fact that corporations are beginning to accept that they will be held accountable for their wider impact on society is a noteworthy step. Until the triple bottom line method is introduced globally, however, corporations have no incentive to stop the practise of greenwashing.

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