Encyclopedia of Corporate Social Responsibility

2013 Edition
| Editors: Samuel O. Idowu, Nicholas Capaldi, Liangrong Zu, Ananda Das Gupta


Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-28036-8_104



Greenwashing refers to the practice of falsely promoting an organization’s environmental efforts or spending more resources to promote the organization as green than are spent to actually engage in environmentally sound practices. Thus greenwashing is the dissemination of false or deceptive information regarding an organization’s environmental strategies, goals, motivations, and actions.

The term “greenwashing” was originally coined by prominent environmentalist Jay Westerveld in a 1986 essay in which he claimed the hotel industry falsely promoted the reuse of towels as part of a broader environmental strategy; when, in fact, the act was designed as a cost-saving measure (Orange and Cohen 2010). Thus, the term is now used to refer to any organization that seems to adopt new environmental practices that are, in fact, cost savings, or more simply put, it is the practice of making an organization...

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References and Readings

  1. Elmore, B. (2009). True green or pale intention? Baylor Business Review, 2, 48–49.Google Scholar
  2. Friedman, T. (2010). Et Tu, Toyota. The New York Times. op-ed column, October 3, 2007, NyTimes.com (October 20th 2010).Google Scholar
  3. Furlow, N. E. (2010). Greenwashing in the new millennium. The Journal of Applied Business and Economics, 10(6), 22–25.Google Scholar
  4. McDermott, C. C. (2009). Corporate Agenda 21: A unified global approach to CSR and sustainability. Corporate Communications, 14(3), 286–302.Google Scholar
  5. National Science Foundation. (2010). Latest ‘green’ packing material? Mushrooms; packing foam engineered from mushrooms and agricultural waste. ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100727121933.htm
  6. Orange, E., & Cohen, A. M. (2010). From eco-friendly to eco-intelligent. The Futurist, 44(5), 28–32.Google Scholar
  7. U.S. Energy Information Administration. (2010). Net generation by energy sources. http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table1_1.html
  8. Waeraas, A., & Ihlen, Ø. (2009). Green legitimization: The construction of an environmental ethos. International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 17(2), 84–102.Google Scholar
  9. Weissman, R. (2005). Taking on corporate power – And winning. Multinational Monitor, 26(11/12), 25–43.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of BusinessThe College of New JerseyEwingUSA