Environmentalism 2.0: Goodbye Greenwashing?


As the eco-friendly movement matures and embeds into mainstream culture, the power of green iconography diminishes – and the greenwashers will move on. It’s already happening. The Law of Diminishing Returns tells us that the more companies try to Green up their act, the less unique it becomes as a sales pitch. Increasingly, being environmentally friendly isn’t a luxury – it’s a requirement.

That’s bad news for advertisers dealing in promoting the uniqueness of their products, notes Rebecca Swift for the BBC’s Green Room. And the imagery is becoming tired too: Swift’s team undertook a year’s research into Green advertising and found the two most popular colors – Kelly (or Kermit!) Green and Forest Green – being used to epidemic proportions. With the novelty worn off and, in Swift’s words, “out of the propaganda phase”, what happens?

First, green products get a lot more interesting. When the novelty value simply won’t carry it, the emphasis shifts to quality (aesthetic and utilitarian). Products become better than their competitors by being better. It’s the right climate for truly deluxe, truly eco-friendly consumerism, and good news all round. Second – and this is just my take – those companies who’ve authentically been green from the start will have earned something to show for it. Trust.
And third? Greenwashing slumps in favor of the Next Big Color”¦.

>“Environmentalism 2.0 is all about the planet and water. Those are blue images. We’re not saying green is going away – it’s just going to be a subset of blue.” – Ann Mack, in Penelope Green’s Flash In The Can, New York Times.

Beware the bluewashers?

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.