Sustainable Business: Beware of “Green Washing”

Big box (retail / apparel) stores might put solar panels on their storesbut they have totally destroyed the apparel market, and the apparel industry. Because what have they done? They have built a model on cheap unsustainable transportation and cheap labor… They aren’t going to greatly raise their prices or greatly reduce their margins…so they can’t come back to the U.S. to source their merchandise now.. the gap between 55 cents an hour in Bangladesh and $15/hour in the U.S. is too great…



Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading

information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound.

Greenwashing is considered an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers

into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly.

definition from Investopedia

See bottom of the page for more examples


So it’s about re-education – buy better, buy less, buy local.”

There’s a value beyond price: what’s the social impact? What’s the environmental impact? A product made overseas, it’s financially cheaper, but what’s the impact?

What’s the cost of cheap?”


From the documentary: “Real Value” – Economics, Sustainability, Social Entrepreneurship

Real Value is an award-winning economics documentary that delivers a refreshing meditation on how business can be used to create value beyond profit; connecting motivational stories from social entrepreneurs working in agriculture, apparel, insurance, and biofuel, with the captivating science behind our perception of value from world-renowned professor of psychology and behavioral economics, Dan Ariely. 

The film serves as inspiration for any business owner, entrepreneur, or customer who is looking to better understand what happens when a business puts people, planet, and profit on equal footing.


A few examples of how some companies try to “green wash”:

  • Changing the name, logo, slogan, motto / ‘rebranding’ in a way that implies environmental consciousness
  • Distracting consumers – this is done by diverting attention from something else the company does or diverting your attention from the bigger picture.
  • Favored partnerships – claims that the product is endorsed or vetted by reliable companies, (such as) partnership and relationship strategies with non-profit organizations that are at the forefront of protecting the environment… invokes trust from the consumers that the products are legit; or logos and certifications from government agencies provide the illusion of oversight from the authorities, thus proving legitimacy

– Excerpts from article “15+ Examples of Green Washing on