Friday, April 18, 2008


For those of us who believe that environmentalism is faith based rather than fact based, the fact the movement is codifying The Six Sins of Greenwashing supports our view. Greenwashing is when corporations go eco-friendly in their sales claims in an attempt to make profits. Treehugger gives the quick summary.

1. Sin of the Hidden Trade-Off: e.g. “Energy-efficient” electronics that contain hazardous materials. 998 products or 57% of all environmental claims committed this Sin.

2. Sin of No Proof: e.g. Shampoos claiming to be “certified organic,” but with no verifiable certification. 454 products and 26% of environmental claims committed this Sin.

3. Sin of Vagueness: e.g. Products claiming to be 100% natural when many naturally-occurring substances are hazardous, like arsenic and formaldehyde. Seen in 196 products or 11% of environmental claims.

4. Sin of Irrelevance: e.g. Products claiming to be CFC-free, even though CFCs were banned 20 years ago. This Sin was seen in 78 products and 4% of environmental claims.

5. Sin of Fibbing: e.g. Products falsely claiming to be certified by an internationally recognized environmental standard like EcoLogo, Energy Star or Green Seal. Found in 10 products or less than 1% of environmental claims.

6. Sin of Lesser of Two Evils: e.g. Organic cigarettes or “environmentally friendly” pesticides, This occurred in 17 products or 1% of environmental claims.

I especially like the original papers discussion about the SIN OF VAGUENESS:

There are some recurring themes within these vague claims. For example:
♦ “Chemical-free”. In fact, nothing is free of chemicals. Water is a chemical. All plants, animals, and humans are made of chemicals as are all of our products.
♦ “Non-toxic”. Everything is toxic in sufficient dosage. Water, oxygen, and salt are all potentially hazardous.
♦ “All Natural”. Arsenic is natural. So are uranium, mercury, and formaldehyde. All are poisonous.
♦ “Green”, “Environmentally friendly”, and “Eco-conscious” (to name just a few) which are utterly meaningless without elaboration.

My favorite, however, is the SIN OF NO PROOF. By this standard, the whole dangerous manmade global warming by carbon dioxide idea is sinful. Unless you believe that computer programming of anecdotal observations constitutes proof.

Disclosure: I believe CO2 is innocent of any and all claims of environmental endangerment. As noted above, all plants, animals and humans are made of chemicals and it all starts when photosynthesis bonds H2O and CO2 into larger molecules.