Brownwashing: The Bashing of green products

October 8, 2014 |

According to, “Greenwashed” is the way to describe up to 95 percent of “so-called green products”. The organization notes that a 2010 study by Terrachoice revealed that only 265 out of 5296 products were really as a green as they claimed, citing problems such as : 1. No Proof. 2. Hidden Trade-Offs; 3. Smoke & Mirrors claims; 4. Vagueness; 5. False labels; 6. Touting Irrelevant Factors; and 7. Bold Lies.”, in an infographic, suggested that consumers can avoid supporting greenwashed products by shopping at big box retailers, which are 10 times less likely to have greenwashed products than “green boutiques”.

Greenwash or Brownwash?

The Digest would point out that discounting products as “greenwashed” because they lack 3rd-party certification is good consumer watchdog tactic — but it doesn’t actually mean that products are, in fact, making spurious claims. Also, discounting all products made from a “sustainably harvested forest” because of “hidden trade-offs” such as “energy use”, “water pollution” and “greenhouse gas emissions” is, itself, suffering from the Vagueness problem.

Suggesting that the watchdogs may be suffering from the Brownwashing problem, which is the tainting of good environmentally-friendly products for vague, false, irrelevant or otherwise agenda-driven reasons.


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