Illuminating the “Greenwashing”

182Sorry for the pun.

GE has been a company that has been striving for the green image for a while because they are responsible for most of the household products that you own that consume energy. To narrow down on the products they produce I only want to talk about the light bulb.I looked up on their online catalog how they present their “eco-friendly” lighting. My eyes were first drawn to the fluorescent light bulb taking place of a flowers bulb in the picture and next to the header that was a picture of a blurry tree canopy. Although this is the only nature that appears on the web page, the fact that the rest of the web page is text on a white background makes the green imagery that much more enticing to look at. However, i wouldn’t say that is a strong enough image by itself to label it as being one of the 7 sins. You have to read the text to get the sense that they are committing any of the 7 “greenwashing” sins.

“The MRT system separates the phosphor, metal and glass in linear and compact fluorescent shrinkage. As a result of these new installations, the amount of hazardous waste generated has decreased by 80%.”

This is the first statement that stuck out to me as being one of the 7 sins. I had a tough time determining if this fell under “vagueness” or “Irrelevance”. I thought it was vague because they don’t tell you the amount of hazardous waste it produced before or after using the MRT system, which could mean that even after using the MRT system, the product still produces a substantial amount of hazardous waste. It could also fall under “Irrelevance” for the same reasons that it could be considered vague. They don’t specify how much harmful waste is left in the bulb when disposing of it even though they say it has 80% less than before they used the MRT system. Which means I cannot use this information alone to compare GE’s lighting to other lighting manufacturers, although the newer product is better than their older product another companies lighting may still be more eco-friendly.

So what I have found is that most of the information they are presenting here is just “fluff” that is used to make a consumer feel better about buying their product, but that dosent mean that buying their product will be helping the environment more so than buying another companies product.

Eric Burgstrom


One thought on “Illuminating the “Greenwashing”

  1. You’re right, greenwashing is often given in the form of “fluff”. For this post I researched the greenwashing of Herbal Essences, which is owned by P&G. A question on the FAQ page asked if their company protects the environment. Herbal Essences answered with a ton of key words and “fluff”, completely avoiding to answer the ‘yes or no’ question. I think the irrelevance makes it obvious that a company greenwashing.

    Madeleine Converse


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