Tag Archives: greenwashing

Spot the green

Which of the following green-coloured products are made using recycled paper or make any other claims toward environmental sustainability?

The answer, of course, is none. They’re just green-coloured.

That’s the problem with greenwashing. There is no standard body to say what environmentally-friendly claims can be made and which ones can’t. And even if there were such a body with strictly-enforced rules, nothing prevents a company from simply using green-coloured packaging to subtly fool consumers into thinking that there is an environmental benefit to choosing a green product over a non-green version.

What’s the difference between these two products? They’re both from the same company, both weigh the same and are made from the same material. The difference, if you look at the numbers at the bottom, is that the green-coloured package has sheets that are half the size as those the blue-coloured package, and offsets that by having twice as many sheets.

In other words, the only difference between the two is that the one on the left has twice as many perforations. And yet there’s a sense that, because it’s green, it’s better for the environment somehow.

The one product on the shelves that does make green claims is this jumbo package of paper towels from President’s Choice. The paper towels here are printed on made using recycled paper, and I believe once you throw them away will explode into butterflies or something.

Whose bright idea was it to associate such a complicated, easily-abused marketing concept with little more than a colour?