green·​wash·​ing | \ ˈgrēn-ˌwȯ-shiŋ How to pronounce greenwashing (audio) , -ˌwä-\

Definition of greenwashing

: expressions of environmentalist concerns especially as a cover for products, policies, or activities

Examples of greenwashing in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

There’s a practice called greenwashing, whereby polluting companies devote relatively minor resources to environmental causes to reap public relations windfalls. Brian Beutler, New Republic, "Ivanka Trump’s Political Brand Is Dead," 2 June 2017 And less-than-honest properties and tour operators embellish their Earth-friendly achievements, an act of falsehood called greenwashing. Andrea Sachs,, "Green means go: How to plan an eco-vacation from start to finish," 22 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'greenwashing.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of greenwashing

1989, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for greenwashing

green entry 1 (environmentalist) + brainwashing

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Statistics for greenwashing

Last Updated

23 May 2019

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Time Traveler for greenwashing

The first known use of greenwashing was in 1989

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Financial Definition of greenwashing

What It Is

Greenwashing is the act of misleading customers and potential customers into believing that a product or service is environmentally friendly.

How It Works

Let's say Company XYZ produces a new line of plastic food containers. It labels the containers "tree friendly" because they are not made from wood or forest products. This creates the perception that the company is not harming nature to make the food containers, when in fact it is using petroleum products that many argue are more harmful to the environment. Company XYZ is attempting to greenwash its products.

Why It Matters

Greenwashing is deceptive advertising often intended to increase sales rather than inform customers. Additionally, greenwashing often covers up activities that are in fact harmful to the environment. There are many ways to greenwash, and it is up to consumers to think carefully about a company's claims.

Source: Investing Answers

Comments on greenwashing

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