Throwing Green Shade for Shady Greenwashing Campaigns

When you hear a company use the phrase “green” most of us think that’s a good thing and businesses are doing their part to help the environment, but is it really? Sadly, some companies use this phrase that can be misleading through greenwashing. Greenwashing is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as, “to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is.” Customers who are environmentally conscious naturally (no pun intended) want to support brands and companies that are making these claims that could be deceitful. For example, a company could promote switching from paper to electronic services as better for the environment, i.e. ‘go paperless – go green’ and ‘save trees.’

Most paperless marketing slogans and claims can be disingenuous as they fail to meet the requirements of many published environmental guidelines and laws, such as the Green Guides of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Competition Bureau of Canada, and the ISO14021 standard. All these publications specify that claims must be specific and require substantiation based on recognized scientific methods and that vague claims (such as “green”) should not be used.

Financial organizations, utilities, telecoms, and governments are increasingly encouraging their customers to go “paperless”. However, switching to digital is not always desired as many consumers value paper-based communication. In 2019, a recent survey conducted by Two Sides found that 86% of U.S. consumers believe they should have the right to choose how they receive communications (printed or electronically) from their service providers. A further 74% believe they should not be charged more for choosing paper bills or statements and 45% would consider changing their provider if forced to go digital-only. In addition, 61% agree that claims about the switch to digital being better for the environment are made because the sender wants to save money.

If you happen to come across these misleading claims there is something you do to help. Two Sides, an independent, non-profit organization, whose mission is to dispel common environmental misconceptions and to inspire and inform businesses and consumers with engaging, factual information about the sustainability, versatility, and attractiveness of print, paper, and paper-based packaging. Since early 2012, Two Sides North America has engaged with more than 200 companies to change or remove negative environmental claims used to promote electronic services over paper-based communications. If you should notice misleading environmental claims, please send them an email at

Be sure to check out our main resource Two Sides North America for a helpful overview video and to learn more about their anti-greenwashing campaign. If you’re in the need of partnering with a print marketing agency that is transparent about sustainability and green marketing, please connect with our team of experts to learn more and get started today!