The 8 Most Notorious Greenwashers


Everyone seems to be promoting themselves as “green” or “natural” in some way or another these days, tapping into the zeitgeist of sustainability. That includes things that aren’t really green by any stretch of the imagination—things like fossil fuel trade groups, car companies, and big box stores.

The Green Life, a website designed to help people make greener consumer choices, decided to host a competition in honor of the recently passed April Fool’s Day to recognize the biggest “greenwashers” out there. Perhaps it’s no surprise, but the list their readers came up with includes some familiar faces for Mother Jones readers:

  1. America’s Natural Gas Alliance claims to protect air, water, and land, while actually lobbying against common-sense safeguards.
  2. Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, which uses odd food analogies and meaningless claims.
  3. Walmart, which used a much-hyped going-green campaign to hide its core unsustainable business.
  4. Fiji Water was found guilty of greenwashing for calling its water “carbon-negative.”
  5. CBS’s EcoAd program, which puts a leafy green logo on any company’s ad for a fee.
  6. The Malaysian Palm Oil Council, which causes rainforests to be cut down, yet sells itself as sustainable.
  7. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative, which too often promotes just the opposite through a deceptive label.
  8. Mazda, for partnering with The Lorax to sell an SUV.

See our features on the dubious “greenness” of natural gas, Walmart, Fiji water, and Mazda for more.

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.