Posted by: ecodestination | January 13, 2010

Fight greenwashing! (Wait, can we?) Pt. 1

Illustration courtesy of

You are an eco conscious individual and you want to take a trip. “Yay! So many eco-friendly options!” you joyfully think to yourself.

Wait, STOP!

Greenwashing is everywhere.

*Screams of terror*

But don’t be scared!

There is hope.

Our most powerful tool

The best thing we can do to out greenwashing is ask questions – to yourself and to the ostensibly green companies whose products and so on you are interested in. Every single question you have. Ask them until you drive people crazy (and then keep going)!

Some important issues to consider:

  • What are the company’s environmental claims?
    • Are the claims vague? (Red flag! Probable greenwashing!)
    • Are they verifiable?
    • Do the company and its products/lodging/whatnot meet certain environmental leadership standards?
    • Which environmental organization’s standards does the company meet?
    • Is the environmental organization legit, like EcoLogo or Green Seal?
    • What does the environmental organization examine – sustainability, energy efficiency, evident respect toward local communities and culture, nature conservation, etc.?
  • Can you get your hands on the company’s documented green standards and the environmental organization’s testing protocol(s)?

Unavailable documents are a red flag signaling massive greenwashing. And if you do acquire a copy of the documents, dissect them to ascertain whether the company meets the standards it purports to meet. The information should be clear, consistent, and provable.

  • If no organization screened the company for greenwashing, who was in charge of developing the environmental standards and testing protocol(s), and how did they do it?
    • Were the standards and protocols developed via an open and transparent process?
    • Are records publicly available for review? (They better be!)
  • Do the standards encompass energy efficiency, sustainability, environmental and social repercussions during the lifecycle of the product or building and running of the facility, conscientious disposal and waste water treatments, and other umbrella factors?
    • Is this demonstrable?
  • What does the verification process consist of?
    • Is it self-certification? Self- certification and random audits? Independent third-party certification? Independent third-party certification with on-site audits?
    • Is this provable?

The questions that can be asked to detect greenwashing are practically interminable.

Can you come up with more?



  1. […] let you know in my next post! Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Fight greenwashing! (Wait, can we?) Pt. 1Study: […]

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