(a compound word modelled on "whitewash"), or "green sheen," is a form of spin in which green PR
or green marketing
is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization's products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly. Evidence that an organization is greenwashing often comes from pointing out the spending differences: when significantly more money or time has been spent advertising being "green" (that is, operating with consideration for the environment), than is actually spent on environmentally sound
practices. Greenwashing efforts can range from changing the name or label of a product to evoke the natural environment
on a product that contains harmful chemicals to multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns portraying highly polluting energy companies as eco-friendly. In an academic paper Greenwashing has been defined as "co-creation of an external accusation toward an organization with regard to presenting a misleading green message
", indicating that an accusation is necessary to speak of Greenwashing.
While greenwashing is not new, its use has increased over recent years to meet consumer demand for environmentally friendly goods and services. The problem is compounded by lax enforcement by regulatory agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission
in the United States, the Competition Bureau in Canada, and the Committee of Advertising Practice and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice in the United Kingdom. Critics of the practice suggest that the rise of greenwashing, paired with ineffective regulation, contributes to consumer skepticism of all green claims, and diminishes the power of the consumer in driving companies toward greener solutions for manufacturing processes and business operations
. Many corporate structures use greenwashing as a way to repair
public perception of their brand. The structuring of corporate disclosure is often set up so as to maximize perceptions of legitimacy. However, there is a growing body of social and environmental accounting
research finds corporate posturing and deception in the absence of external monitoring and verification.