Greenwashing (a compound word modelled on "whitewash"), also called "green sheen", is a form of marketing spin in which green PR and green marketing are deceptively used to persuade the public that an organization's products, aims and policies are environmentally friendly.
Critics of the practice suggest the rise of greenwashing, paired with ineffective regulation, contributes to consumer scepticism of all green claims, and diminishes the power of the consumer to drive companies toward greener manufacturing processes and business operations. Many corporations use greenwashing to improve public perception of their brands. Complex corporate structures often obscure the big picture.
A growing body of social and environmental accounting research indicates that, without external monitoring and verification, greenwashing strategies amount to corporate posturing and deception. Indeed, when a company decides to behave responsibly and adopts a sustainable development vision, it has to change its corporate culture deeply, understand and appropriate the concept. It is not enough to integrate sustainable development into communication to persuade the consumer to buy.
While greenwashing is not new, it 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.. There have been new regulations and laws that are going into action that will hopefully help stop companies from using greenwashing to lure consumers in.