Tag Archives: greenwashing

Glossary Post 5

For this week’s topic, I was excited to learn more about greenwashing because anything that can help me to be more environmentally friendly is a benefit. However, through the course slides and research outside of the classroom, I had learned more about the ethics of green washing and what is considered “green” and what is not”.

Greenwashing means “the concepts of “green” (environmentally sound), and “whitewashing” (to gloss over wrongdoing) to describe the deceptive use of green marketing which promotes a misleading perception that a company’s policies, practices, products or services are environmentally friendly” (Flows 2012). Greenwashing, because green itself is in the term, can sound like a good thing, but it is not. Many companies can promote their products as environmental and ethically friendly but in fact, they are not. For example, Tesla claims to be very environmentally friendly with their cars however, the batteries that are in the cars, are NOT environmentally friendly at all and cause a lot of damage to the Earth.

Another term that has to do with green washing that was in the course slides was lohasian. At first, I thought a Loha was an abbreviation for something and it turns out that I was correct. It stands for Lifestyles in Health and Sustainability. A lohasian is someone who has a lifestyle that is environmentally and ethically friendly with everything that they do. They buy organic foods, organic or natural care products, and any other services that match their life style choices. “Lohas represent 17 percent of the U.S. population” (Are you Lohasian? 2017).

The last term that I came across in my own research was volatile organic compound (voc). These compounds are “organic compounds that easily become vapors or gases…they contain elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, fluorine, chlorine, bromine, sulfur, or nitrogen” (Tox Town 2017). These are considered hazardous air pollutants because they are gases that we breathe in. They can also contribute to climate change when combined with nitrogen oxides.

  • Greenwashing: the concept of being green to describe the deceptive use of green or environmentally friendly marketing which promotes a misleading perception that a company’s policies or anything else is environmentally or ethically friendly.
  • Lohasian: Lifestyles in Health and Sustainability, someone who has a lifestyle that is environmentally and ethically friendly with everything that they do
  • Volatile organic compound: organic compounds that easily become vapors or gases

Sources:

Are you Lohasian? (n.d.) Retrieved December 7, 2017 from             http://www.beliefnet.com/wellness/2006/06/are-you-lohasian.aspx

Flows, C. (2012, March 22). “Greenwashing”: Deceptive Business Claims of “Eco-Friendliness”.    Retrieved December 7, 2017, from         https://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2012/03/20/greenwashing-deceptive-business-         claims-of-eco-friendliness/#4bada7223d9a

Tox Town – Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – Toxic chemicals and environmental health risks where you live and work – Text Version. (n.d.). Retrieved December 07, 2017, from https://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/text_version/chemicals.php?id=31

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Greenwashing Post

Prompt: What does it mean to be green? What does sustainability mean and why is it important? How does being “green” help us and the environment?

Answer: To be green, according to the slides is to be environmentally friendly and most importantly it has to do with sustainability. Sustainability can be describe as maintaining the earth’s most valuable resources alive meaning using as little as we can to maintain those resources because otherwise we will run out of it or the future generations will not have those resources. Being green means being eco-friendly, conserving energy, and not using too much of what you do not need. For instance, turning off the lights when you do not need it or having the sink turned off when you’re brushing your teeth and only when you need it. Doing small things to converse resources on earth means being green and many more. Sustainability is important because if we use the resources we have now, eventually there won’t be resources left for the future generations.

Peer Review

The post that I chose to peer review was Greenwashing by mwalker92. I chose to do this post because they had mentioned many questions in their initial prompt that I am constantly discussing with my friends and people I work with who are very conscious about what they put into their bodies. From reading the post, I learned that media has been promoting fad diets to coincide with beauty terms to come off as an attractive life style for consumers. In addition to that, I also learned that fad diets are not always be successful for consumers because consumers can diet incorrectly and put themselves at risk for many health problems.

I think that many college students and woman (as a general group) could benefit from reading this post because diets like this are “get fit quick” kind of situations because they are eliminating the “negative” parts of their diet when in fact it might not be necessary. College students may want to read this post as well because they can view the diet as a cheap option in order to get some food in their body, when in fact it could cause them to be lacking many nutrients.

The strongest part of this contribution is where the author mentions Celiac disease. Celiac disease is not an easy immune disease to live with and I agree with the sentence where they mention, “I would not recommend it [gluten-free dieting] to any consumer that does not have Celiac disease”. Gluten free means no flour – no wheat. People who have celiac cannot process these ingredients and it can cause their body to have many health complications. I think that this point is very strong and helps to point out that being gluten free is not a fad and is not exactly necessary unless you are celiac. In contrast, the weakest part of this contribution is that there were no other fad diets mentioned in the post but they were in the prompt. I think it would be interesting to learn a bit more about the juicing fad or liquid diets to see what this author had to say.

One part that made me want to read more on this topic is the health problems that can come with each fad diet. We always here about the success stories for the diets but rarely the struggles that come with it or the problems that they can cause. I think it is important that consumers know what they are choosing to put their bodies through when they make these lifestyle changes.

On a scale of 1-4, I would rate this post a 3.5/4 overall because it touched on a personal experience and had very informed points that are beneficial to the reader.

Greenwashing

Prompt: Everyone at some point has wanted to lose weight for one reason or another, but what is the best way to go about this process? Many face this issue everyday, and many more look for the easy road. Many pursue fad dieting such as juicing, liquid diets, high protein diets, and many others. Have you ever tried fad dieting? If so, how did it turn out? The gluten-free fad diet has become a popular trend as of late, but is it truly healthy? Pretend a consumer has asked you about this diet, would you promote it or advise against it?

Answer: As stated in the above prompt, fad dieting has been a popular trend for a number of years. The media has consistently promoted the image of beauty as being thin to consumers. Consumers recognize this as the ideal body image and can sometimes undertake fad dieting to slim down and feel better. Many times consumers diet incorrectly and are actually putting themselves at risk for health problems down the road. As a consumer myself, I have tried my fair share of fad dieting in the past. I have tried juicing, Atkins, and even the no carb diets with minimal success. Often times I would lose the weight but the minute I strayed from the diet the weight came back immediately and usually with a few extra pounds. Fad diets have never worked well with me and I would not recommend them to other consumers. As for the gluten-free dieting I would not recommend it to any consumer that does not have Celiac disease. Celiac is a disease that makes an individual intolerant to gluten, hence the benefit of having gluten-free foods available. Often times gluten-free products ingredients are replaced with substitutes that eliminate gluten from the product, making it safe for persons with gluten intolerance to consume. Consumers should know that just because a product is gluten-free it does not mean that it is any healthier. Gluten-free dieting should not be pursued by anyone who does not require it for health reasons.

Green Washing Post

Prompt: Do you believe CWU is a green/eco friendly campus? What are improvements the university can make to create a greener campus? What measures can students take to be greener on campus?

After reading the greenwashing slides, I struggled to find a unique prompt to discuss but I went to campus to study and the prompt hit me. Do I believe CWU is a green campus? Somewhat. I believe that Central works hard to be sustainable and promote eco-friendly ideas but I believe the school could do more. Currently the school has recycling bins, Zip Car spots (Zip Cars are cars that people share using an app), and even offers a sustainability major. Though these may seem like major accomplishments, CWU also has some downfalls when it comes to being green. The marketplace in the SURC uses paper plates to serve food and most of these end up being thrown away rather than recycled. If the marketplace switched to plastic baskets or regular plates  for students eating in the SURC, the paper waste would drop. CWU could also try to create sustainable housing. Humboldt State University has some residence halls/homes that are sustainable. Simple and not simple changes could create a greener campus environment at CWU. I believe that students can also be more conscious of green ideas on campus. Students eating in the SURC can ask for regular plates rather than paper and can use refillable water bottles since the SURC has fill stations at the water fountains now. If CWU students chose to make simple changes such as reusable water bottles and asking for reusable dishware when dining in the SURC, Central could become greener through a grassroots style movement, bottom up rather than top down.

Greenwashing

Prompt:
What does it mean to go “green”? How can you contribute to a green environment?

After reviewing the slides, I learned that greenwashing is essentially a market of products that companies sell as green in order to seem environmentally friendly. This can vary from water bottles that are made from 100% recycled plastic to organic pillowcases or recycled paper.

Going green is ideally growing to become more environmentally friendly through our everyday choices. That being said, you can contribute to a green environment by taking the bus or walking; recycling rather than just throwing everything in the trash, or using reusable bags when you go grocery shopping instead of plastic bags. By also investing in a water filtration system and a hydro flask it can help save the environment long-term even though the initial costs can be expensive.

Helping the environment is like saving pocket change, it may not seem like much at the time but in the end, it adds up quickly.

Greenwashing Post

What is sustainability? Are products sustainable?

The Greenwashing slides got me thinking about sustainability. Sustainability is the ability for biological systems to remain sustained indefinitely by maintaining long-term ecological balance.

A large majority of products in the US are wasteful. For instance, this morning I was out for breakfast with my parents. Most of the items on the table were disposable: from the mini creamers to straws in individual wrapping, to the sugar packets and napkins. These items are meant to be thrown away after one use. Some of these things might have been recyclable but there are many products which are not. For example, how do you recycle a juice box? Do you put it in paper? Aluminum? Plastic? All three of these materials are merged together. A juice box is a product that was not meant to be recycled.

One consumer item, not directly related to health, but largely impacts it is fashion. The US has a huge fashion industry and the average consumer household spent $1,786 dollars in 2014 on apparel.  The fashion industry is the 2nd largest polluting industry due to textile waste, chemical dumping, and pesticide use. The factor which drives the pollution numbers up is fast fashion, that is, mass-produced, low-costing clothing which imitates current runway trends. This style of fashion has promoted frequent consumptions and the idea that clothing is disposable.

In 2013, the fashion industry generated 15.1 million tons of textile waste. A whopping 12.8 million of this was thrown out the same year it was purchased. But pollution does not start when the product is thrown away, it starts with the pesticides used to grow cotton (and other crops.) The fashion industry relies on heavy pesticide use to keep up with the disposable fashion industry. Pesticides have been tied to many health and environmental issues.

In addition, the high demand for cheap leather has let city’s like Kanpur in India exposed to dangerous conditions. 50 million liters of toxic waste are poured every day into the local trainers which flows into farmlands and wells. Kanpur and other cities like it have widespread severe health issues ranging from skin diseases, boils, numbness and various types of cancer. I find these numbers scary. What makes it worse is that most textile waste is not biodegradable and sits around in dumpsites emitting toxic chemicals for years.

With many consumers now asking for more sustainable options, greenwashing has become rampant in the fashion industry. For example, H&M World Recycle Week seems like an eco-friendly practice, however, in reality, it would take H&M over 12 years to recycle just 48 hours worth of donated clothing.

Companies often have misleading statements regarding eco-friendly practices and consumers struggle to make informed purchases with all the misinformation available. Melissa Joy Manning, jewelry designer and co-chair of CFDA Sustainability committee said, “Everyone now says eco, they say environmentally friendly, sustainable, its ‘Made in the USA’…but it’s like peeling an onion, when you pull back one layer of skin there’s so many underneath.” To add to the misinformation, companies can simply buy sustainable certifications for $30,000-$50,000 dollars.

I would highly recommend checking out the video “The Story of Stuff” which looks how unsustainable our current system is and the various health, social and environmental impacts it creates.

Greenwashing Post

Do you do anything to reduce your environmental footprint?

How can you improve/reduce your environmental impact?

There are things that I do that are helpful to the planet, even if they do not completely reduce my environmental footprint. This includes taking public transportation to school and recycling my plastic water bottles. However, I am not very good about reducing my environmental footprint overall. I do things that are harmful to the planet when there are other greener alternatives. I buy fast food or go to a restaurant and that food tends to be wrapped up in paper, foil, or it is placed in cardboard boxes, or Styrofoam containers. I don’t shop online often, but I do sometimes. My environmental impact increases with the transportation that is used to bring me those products. I also use harmful cleaning products to clean around my house, even though there are alternatives, and I use plastic bags in the grocery store.

Many of these things are easy fixes, all I have to do is make them a habit and I would be more green. I can take my own canvas bags to the grocery store rather than using the plastic bags provided. I can eat more at home rather than go out so much to reduce the amount of packaging that is thrown away, and I can mix up natural products to clean, like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon instead of using cleaning products that are harmful to the environment. Shopping physically in the stores also prevents the need for transportation to bring me my products. It is important to have sustainable habits so that we do not further harm the planet for future generation.

Greenwashing Post

What does it mean to go green, and what are the benefits of it?

Going green is buying and using environmentally friendly and sustainable products and services. For example, using reusable products such as water bottles, glasses and plates, reduces the amount of garbage you fill up and counts as “going green.” Another example is buying organic, local foods because they weren’t made with any chemicals that are harmful for the environment. One of the benefits of going green is that it can help you save money. Using reusable products helps because you don’t have to continuously buy the item that you throw away after using it. Another benefit is that you’re contributing to the earth’s health by reducing your wastes and buying foods that don’t have any chemicals or pesticides in them.

Greenwashing Self Prompt

Prompt: What is greenwashing? What is sustainability and how does it impact us as consumers? How does sustainability contribute to our self-identity?

Greenwashing is buying or doing something marketed as “green” to offset other products or habits that are not as environmentally friendly. Sustainability is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brassington & Pettit, 2005, p.12, as cited by (Schielke & Altobelli, 2012). So, people buy things labeled as “green” in order to create a more sustainable lifestyle for them and the future generations. However, the bad news is that almost every product that is bought has at least some impact on the environment. To give an example, almost everything in a store is packaged in some way, and many of these ways negatively impact the environment, most of the packaging isn’t decomposable. This idea of sustainability contributes to our self-identity due to perceived moral obligation. Moral obligation is what we think we should do and self-identity is how we view or want to view ourselves. Consumers feel a moral obligation to help provide a sustainable environment for future generations. This helps consumers improve their self-identity. Yet again, almost every single product does negatively impact the environment in some way, leading to the question “is our current lifestyle sustainable?”