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What is "greenwashing," and what are the consequences of companies participating in this act?

Greenwashing is the corporate practice of misleading the public about how environmentally friendly products are. It can benefit a company by increasing sales, but it can negatively impact companies when they are exposed for misleading or lying to consumers.

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Greenwashing is a term that refers to the use of deceptive advertising to make a company appear to be environmentally friendly when it is clearly not. It is based on the term whitewashing, which refers to the covering up of negative information about bad corporate behavior by biased, misleading, or false information. Greenwashing may involve practices such as using vague language like "eco-friendly" or "organic" to describe products, irrelevant pictures of nature, indecipherable scientific-sounding jargon, imaginary endorsements, and outright lies.

The term was first used in 1986 in an essay by environmentalist Jay Westervelt. He was referring specifically to a cunning campaign initiated by hotel chains. They would post signs in hotel rooms that their guests...

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