Paul Tullis's Grim Tidings

Bitter musings on politics and policy

Great moments in greenwashing

with 4 comments


Chevron launches its “People Do” campaign, highlighting “the company’s efforts to protect the environment near its facilities.” Chevron’s products continue polluting the environment both near and far from its facilities from 1985 and on past 2001, when the campaign closes.


Mobil develops and begins aggressively marketing “biodegradable” garbage bags. “Degrading” in this case actually refers to breaking up into many, smaller pieces of plastic, and to do so the bags need to be left out in the sun, rather than buried under tons of other garbage bags (as seems their more likely fate).


In a brilliant reversal of greenwashing that might be called “greenfilthing,” the head of the Center For Global Food Issues, a pro-presticide, pro-irradiation pseudo-think tank partially funded by agribusiness giant Monsanto, writes that CDC data indicates “people who eat organic and natural foods are eight times as likely as the rest of the population to be attacked by a deadly new strain of E. coli.” The head of the food-borne illnesses branch of the CDC quickly repudiates the statement as false.


April: Competitive Enterprise Institute, a pro-business lobby that gets much of its funding from the oil industry, produces two 60-second TV ads promoting the virtues of CO2 that say in part, “People breathe it out. Plants breathe it in…They call it pollution; we call it life.” The ads are excoriated in the press and canceled after ten days.

July: Proving you can sometimes count on the press to do your greenwashing for you, CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo calls Ford CEO William Clay Ford a “true environmentalist” during a live interview. In the previous three years, Ford abandoned a pledge to increase its SUVs’ mileage and sued California to keep it from limiting greenhouse gasses. Ford is based in Michigan.


Environmental marketing firm TerraChoice finds that 1017 of 1018 environmental claims on products it purchased “fail to live up fully to their green boasts.”


Monsanto supports public radio with ads calling itself “sustainable.”

Find out more about greenwashing here.

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Written by ptullis

May 14, 2009 at 9:05 am

Posted in environment

4 Responses

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  1. I’m a personal fan of the British Petrol logo, which is some kind of green flower.

    Marc Herman

    May 14, 2009 at 11:18 am

    • I interviewed the spokespersons for the American Petroleum Institute and the British Energy Institute (formerly known as the British Petroleum Institute), of which BP is the chief funding source, about peak oil a few years ago. The American was totally, “There’s plenty of oil left to be discovered, nothing to see here, blah blah blah,” while his British counterpart was remarkably candid about how the oil production peak is real and is coming (and has possibly been reached by now). So while, yes, they are a polluting company and could certainly be doing more, I think they’re better than the American oil companies. Another good thing about buying British oil: They don’t give money to terrorists (not as far as I know, anyway).

      Paul Tullis

      May 19, 2009 at 1:43 pm

  2. my friend was attempting to pull into an exxon mobil just as i spotted a bp across the street, so, i did what any self respecting eco geek would do…i quickly yelled “go over there” and turned the wheel into oncoming traffic. hehe… we made it across with no harm, however, she karate chopped my chest for my actions. 😉


    May 20, 2009 at 12:00 am

  3. […] I wrote earlier, British Petroleum seems to be better than American oil companies in some regards, […]

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