Not only is it difficult to educate and convince people to do the right
(rather than the easy) thing, it is made significantly more difficult
by the fact that being perceived as "green" is currently
tremendously important for businesses of all sorts. While there are many truly concerned businesses working on products to create less damage, there are increasingly more companies who ride the green wave to sell more of what they always sold. Their marketing
and advertising departments are hard at work to make any product
appear as if it will save the planet. This intentional deception
is called "green-washing" and you have to be rather
careful to avoid falling for it. Can't say it has not happened
Generally speaking, most companies will not tell you the whole truth
about their product. They will attempt to high-light what is positive,
hide what is negative, emphasize what is perceived well, sweep
under the carpet what they do not want you to know. This is nothing
really new. Marketing has been done this way since it was invented.
What is new is that the environment and caring about it currently
enjoys so much attention. In addition, environmental facts are
not just black and white and their interpretation leaves much
room for bias. If you want to believe a product is green, it is
fairly easy to convince yourself that it is. All you have to do
is look at some chosen facts, rather than all the facts. There
are many facts to choose from; the issue is complicated.
To decrease being green-washed do this:
• Look at the "green" facts in question and decide
why you are being told about them.
• Research if there are critics of the advertised facts/product
in question and what they have to say.
• Decide who you think is more reliable and unbiased.
• Learn as much as you can about a product, from its fabrication
to its re-integration into the cycle of production.
• Learn as much as you can about a service, from its planned
benefits to its undesired side-effects to the environment, people,
• Decide whether not using the product in question is not
better than using it.
• Decide whether decreasing the use of a different product/service
will not have the same benefit than the product/service in question.
• Decide whether the product/service cannot be replaced
with already existing items and whether they are that much worse.
• Decide if the product/service is what you WANT or what
• Decide whether the product/service's benefits outweigh
There is no fool-proof way to avoid the deception by marketing
departments. They know their craft well. But knowledge is power
and the more you know, and the less dependent you are on what
other people think of you and what you should do, the more reasonable
will be your decision.