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Greenwashing Lessons

mspencers Icon Posted by Miranda Spencer

September 19th, 2008

How refreshing! A new MTV ad has debuted that attacks businesses (and even celebrities) it finds guilty of “greenwashing”– portraying themselves as environmentally benign (or beneficial, or sustainable) when they’re not. It’s part of MTV Switch, the cable network’s marketing effort to reach youth with a “fight global warming” message. Check it out:


It’s surprisingly edgy for a cute ditty, although the medium through which it’s conveyed is itself Consumerism Central. Also, it doesn’t really tell viewers how to distinguish truly environmentally friendly products from greenwashing.

Fortunately, there’s a woman-penned book available to help with that: Really Green by Debra Lynn Dadd. To quote Dadd’s wonderful website, Debra’s List, a one-stop shop for hundreds of environmentally sustainable companies and products, the book

simplifies the purchasing process with basic principles that allow you to sift through the hype and buy green products with absolute confidence.

[It] offers a wealth of information on planet-friendly purchasing including:

* What “green” really means
* The true foundation for defining green products
* The life cycle of green products
* The eighteen basic principles that define what’s green
* The five basic types of green products
* All about green packaging
* Various shades of green products
* The cost of green goods
* How to spot misleading “greenwashing”
* How to change your buying habits to be green

Printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper with nontoxic dry inks, it’s available for $12.95 plus shipping and handling from the site.

Dadd, it turns out, came to research and become an expert on green products trying to find a solution for her own multiple chemical sensitivity illness –she says she’s cured herself — and claims to be the first to catalog nontoxic products. Wonder what she’d think of MTV’s “Green Song”?

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