Greenwash - a marketing ploy to market a product as 'green', when it really isn't!
There are lots of resources on the web about greenwash, and as I develop this site, I'll link to them here.
In short, greenwash is the 'art' of misleading you to believe a product is green, when it isn't necessarily green at all.
A few examples that get my goat:
Chemical Free - hmm, interesting. I'm not sure how anything on this planet can be chemical free. Oxygen is a chemical, Hydrogen is a chemical, in fact everything on the planet is made up of elements on the periodic table. That means air is made up of chemicals, and so is water. So how can their product be chemical free, unless you are giving them money for, well... nothing?
Green, Eco-Friendly, Environmentally friendly etc. Unless this is qualified by some actual facts, it is really quite meaningless.
Recyclable (especially when relating to plastic containers or paper): of course it's recyclable. Duh. As for paper, you'd have to do something pretty toxic to it for it not to be recyclable. Meanwhile the source of the paper might be oldgrowth habitat from Marysville. Look for "Recycled" as a higher priority that recyclable. It's kind of redundant.
Sustainable Palm Oil: It's an oxymoron. The palm oil might be sustainably harvested, or the land owners might have been paid a fair wage for giving up their land/shelter/hunting ground, but it is far from sustainable. In reality, palm plantations grow so well because of the rich rainforest soils upon which they grow. And that they do - vigorously for 50 years, until the soil is stripped, the palm plantation is no longer viable, the soil structure is destroyed, the biodiversity is gone, and you are left with desertification of the landscape. It takes about 10 generations to repair the worst of the damage (though much of the biodiversity can never be returned). 50 years of viability is not 'sustainable' by any stretch of the definition - that's not even one generation.
Degradable: Degradable does not mean biodegradable, and biodegradable doesn't necessarily mean it's good. Degradable (plastics) means simply that it breaks down into smaller pieces in the environment. Makes it easier for whales to ingest it with their krill that way. It might break down slightly quicker in landfill than regular plastic, but it's landfill - nothing breaks down quickly - it's an anaerobic environment. Degradable plastics are basically regular plastics with a chemical added to make it break up quicker. This means, it is not as good for recycling. So, although you can't put plastic bags in your recycling bin anywhere in Australia, if you are like me and save your plastic wrap in order to take it to a specialised plastic recycler (I take mine - via a middle man - to Sancon Recycling (as they only accept commercial quantities) so why not start up a co-op to collect it yourself?)
Biodegradable: depends on the context. Paper is biodegradable - that's why you can compost it. Toilet paper is biodegradable. That's why you can flush it down the toilet. So claiming a paper product is biodegradable is redundant. IN ADDITION, the Australian Standard for biodegradability relates to the surfactants or active ingredients in the product only. It does not regulate the biodegradability of fillers (usually synthetic - aka plastic) in non-concentrated products, nor does it regulate the byproducts that may or may not have other toxic qualities.
Greenwash fail files
Greenwash FAIL awards coming soon