Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The dissemination of misleading information by an organization to conceal its abuse of the environment in order to present a positive public image.
  • n. The information so disseminated.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A false or misleading picture of environmental friendliness used to conceal or obscure damaging activities.
  • v. To disseminate such information about (something).

Etymologies

green + (white)wash.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Blend of green ("environmentally friendly") and whitewash (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • It's not for nothing we coined the term "greenwash" at the time -- corporate polluters then, and corporate polluters now, are at the heart of much of what is wrong with the world.

    Kelly Rigg: Rio+20: The Future We Want Means Taking Action NOW

  • Unfortunately, 98 per cent of those offerings were judged to be "greenwash" - produced, marketed or sold in ways that were still environmentally damaging.

    The Earth Times Online Newspaper

  • Rejecting "greenwash" - not pretending to be more sustainable than they actually are.

    Positive Psychology News Daily

  • Citing environmental benefits when simply cutting costs is called "greenwash" - see my blog for more.

    NEWS.com.au | Top Stories

  • You can tell it's an industry shill -- a "greenwash" -- because nowhere on this "nonprofit" site does it ask for contributions or even accept them.

    Consumer Watchdog Updates

  • MTV is launching a global marketing push to tackle climate change that includes a TV ad attacking businesses guilty of "greenwash" - deliberately misleading consumers about their eco-credentials.

    Media news, UK and world media comment and analysis | guardian.co.uk

  • She says it has rigorous verification standards, with a range of third-party experts who inspect homes and test materials to guard against so-called greenwash -- where any effort that is even nominally environmentally friendly gets painted with a "green" brush.

    Ratings Proliferate

  • Google it up along with the key word "greenwash ­" for more info.

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • As an ecopreneur, it is important to stay on top of what the community is calling greenwash as well as companies that are being lauded for their efforts.

    Green Options

  • Coca-Cola also reiterated its goal to become water neutral in India in the next eight months at the shareholders meeting, a claim that has been called a greenwash attempt by its critics.

    ScreenTalk

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Great word! Shouldn't we be hearing it a lot more often than we do, though?

    October 29, 2007

  • "Greenwash (a portmanteau of green and whitewash) is a term that is used to describe the actions of a company, government, or other organization which advertises positive environmental practices while acting in the opposite way. The term came into use in the early 1990s, most notably as the title of an article in the 1991 March/April issue of Mother Jones magazine."
    - Wikipedia

    October 29, 2007