Category Archive: Greenwashing

Cotton Bags Are Greenwashing

Cotton tote bags have long been considered the eco-friendly alternative to plastic shopping bags. But as with many so-called “eco-friendly alternatives,” cotton bags may be worse than the problem they claim to solve. According to a 2018 study from the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark, an organic cotton bag needs to be reused 20,000 times before it becomes less harmful to the planet than a single-use plastic bag. For those who don’t have a calculator handy, that means the cotton bag must be used daily for 54 years to break even. And that is just one bag. It remains...

Read More

Don’t Swallow Alaska Airlines’ Greenwashing Ploy

With a press release in hand, Alaska Airlines told the world that it was going to save the planet by banning the distribution of plastic water bottles on its flights and swapping them with boxed water. The intention of this change was certainly to paint the airline as a green(er) operation, but a closer look shows this is nothing more than an attempt at greenwashing. Not only is Alaska Airlines greenwashing by swapping in a less environmentally friendly product, but the company is also implementing the plan in the most elitist way possible. The Carton Fallacy Cartons are not better for the planet, they just...

Read More

Are Biodegradable Products Good for the Environment, or Greenwashing?

Biodegradable products have positioned themselves as the eco-friendly packaging option that can be used, thrown out, and broken down in a landfill. That may sound nice, but in reality, many so-called biodegradable products have a dubious record when it comes to helping the planet.  The term “biodegradable” has been greenwashed into meaning “eco-friendly.” But to qualify as a biodegradable product, by definition, the product only needs to be able to break down in nature. The catch is that there is no time limit. Almost anything will biodegrade at some point -- that point may just be thousands of years away.  Standard plastics and...

Read More

Are Electric Vehicles Really Better for the Environment?

Electric vehicle manufacturers have been touting their cars as the vehicle of the future, in large part because they’re considered an environmentally friendly solution to car pollution. Congress has added credibility to this claim by offering thousands of dollars in tax incentives to electric vehicle owners.  Electric vehicle owners claim they are saving the environment because they are not dependent on dirty fossil fuels, but that often isn’t the case. Rechargeable cars may seem like the green alternative, but a closer look shows that electric vehicles are not as easy on the environment as their manufacturers paint them to be.  No Fossil...

Read More

Greenwashing: Straw Replacements

A video of a turtle and a third grader’s (questionable) calculation created the perfect storm to launch plastic straws into the position of public enemy number one in the eyes of many environmentalists.  While straws may seem harmless, there are millions used every day in sodas and coffee cups throughout the country, leaving many to fret about the accumulation of plastic waste in landfills and oceans.  Milo Cress, the 9-year-old who sparked fears about straw-mageddon by estimating that 500 million straws used per day, did not have the exact math correct; he overestimated by roughly 330 million straws per day. He did,...

Read More

Greenwashing: Solar Panels

Curbing carbon emissions has been a top priority for environmentalists in the past few decades. Activists have urged businesses and governments to pursue alternative energy sources spurring investments in several forms of renewable energy. But not all alternatives are created equal.  Solar power advocates act as though carbon-free energy is literally pouring from the sky without consequence, but the reality is that collecting solar energy is not as simple or clean as it may seem.  The most glaring problem with solar power is that it is not a viable alternative to fossil fuels. A football field covered in solar panels struggles to...

Read More

Greenwashing: Organic Foods

Organic foods have always marketed themselves as eco-friendly alternatives. Organic products carry the perception of being better for the environment because the logos often come with catchphrases like “all-natural” or “pesticide-free” and feature cute pictures of happy cows or other feel-good, pastoral imagery. Even the United States Department of Agriculture’s logo is green with a field of produce growing in the background. But in many ways, organic foods are actually worse for the planet than other so-called "conventionally produced" foods. Under the USDA’s approval process, organic foods are any foods that are not produced using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. The word “synthetic”...

Read More

Greenwashing: Plant-Based Meat

Fake meat companies claim their products as environmentally friendly. But are they? Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and other synthetic meat companies tout their products as the meat alternative that could save the planet. They argue meat production emits too much greenhouse gas and fake meat is a greener replacement. Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown went as far as to say that he sees their products as the “last chance to save the plan­et from envi­ron­men­tal cat­a­stro­phe.” Some companies have paid for studies that found that their products use less land, less water, and less greenhouse gas than the meat industry. The apocalyptic...

Read More

Greenwashing: Boxed Water

Boxed water has positioned itself as the eco-friendly alternative to plastic bottled water. One brand literally has named itself Boxed Water Is Better. But the reality is that boxed water is not the environmental savior it touts itself to be.  The boxed water industry says it has four main reasons why it claims the box is better for the environment than plastic water bottles. First, cartons are made from renewable resources while plastic bottles are not. Second, water cartons are 100% recyclable. Third, 75% of plastic water bottles are not recycled and end up in landfills or elsewhere. Fourth, paper is...

Read More