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Greenwashing refers to a marketing makeover in which a product is presented as more environment friendly when no substantial effort has been taken to make it so. In a more extreme sense greenwashing may refer to an attempt to make a product that is environmentally damaging appear to be environmentally friendly. Greenwashing plays upon a renewed consumer interest in protecting the environment.
There are two degrees of greenwashing. In the weak form, it merely involves a company claiming credit for existing production methods as if they were influenced by an eco-friendly mandate. For example, a software company may eliminate shrink wrap on packaging to save costs and then spin the move as a green initiative. In the more extreme form, a company will outright lie about the eco-friendliness of a product by using vague phrasing (“best in class ecology”), suggesting packaging (green fields, flowers, etc.), questionable endorsements (“green certified by ecomaniacs”) and so on.