What is “greenwashing”?

Greenwashing is “the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service”.

Companies want to appear “green”, or environmentally conscious, but are still interested in making money. So what is their approach? Slap on that “green” label and put it on the shelves. However, most companies are actually committing at least one of the “seven sins” of greenwashing. These “seven sins” (adopted from here) are as follows:

  1. Hidden Trade-Off = claiming that a product is ‘green’ based on a small set of attributes without attention to environmental issues
  2. No Proof = no supporting information for environmental claims
  3. Vagueness = claims that are poorly defined or too broad to be understood by the consumer
  4. Worshiping False Labels = gives impression of third-party endorsement without proof
  5. Irrelevance – claim that may be truthful but is unimportant or unhelpful to consumers
  6. Lesser of Two Evils – claim that be true, but risks distracting from other greater environmental impacts
  7. Fibbing – claims that are simply false (aka “liar, liar, pants on fire”)


So how exactly does this apply to field schools?

If a field school or fieldwork opportunity is advertising conversation practices, then they should deliver. An example is landowners that promote conservation but are selling their land parcels for illegal logging. This is an unfortunate (but more common than you think) consequence of the log trade monetary benefits outweighing conservation efforts and forest health.