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Greenwashing

OPB | Feb. 12, 2009 9 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:48 p.m.

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scottwills / Flickr / Creative Commons None

When you look for a car mechanic, a toy, or a running shoe (pdf), do you think about the environment? If you’re planning a wedding or a funeral, do you consider the sustainability of the event? I find differentiating between green and sustainable very difficult. I also find it hard to decide when it is important to buy green, and when the extra cost really doesn’t make any difference. But (Kermit the Frog aside) what does it really mean to be green? And what really is sustainable?

Thomas Friedman has described “green” as the “red, white and blue,” writing:

I want to rename “green.” I want to rename it geostrategic, geoeconomic, capitalistic and patriotic. I want to do that because I think that living, working, designing, manufacturing and projecting America in a green way can be the basis of a new unifying political movement for the 21st century.

So many businesses want to categorize themselves as being part of that political movement — part of what is good for the future. But who really is? And who is really just spending marketing dollars to seem like do-gooders? On this show we’ll explore what it means to be sustainable or green, and how they’re different. We’ll listen to ads from green — and not so green — companies… and learn how to evaluate marketing claims.

When do you buy green? When is it important for you to find sustainable products? Do you know how to tell the difference? When does it matter in your life?

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