Greenwashing means to "implement token environmentally friendly initiatives as a way of hiding or deflecting criticism about existing environmentally destructive practices" (225). A good example of a blatantly obvious greenwash would be an automaker that opposes stricter fuel-efficiency standards pledging in a full-page New York Times ad to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (226). Though greenwashing is deceitful and does indeed happen, to say that corporate responsibility, as a whole is made up of greenwashing practices is a severe overstatement. In face, to the dismay of my friends and relatives at the Thanksgiving table, there are indeed some companies out there that strive to be sustainable solely in order to better our environment as opposed to just cover up their firm's eco- destructive habits. For example, General Electric was recently named the most sustainable company in the world, according to Global100.org. From the start of its company, GE has mentioned that its goal to "make money, make it ethically, and make a difference beyond formal requirements for the benefit of the world" (2).
GE's focus on environment, health, and safety extends beyond the company's walls, as it works with supplier to provide a safe and healthy workplace for its own employees and reduce the environmental impact on local communities (3). General Electric is not involved in greenwashing because the company has not run media-charged campaigns aimed at hyping up its environmentally friendly operations. The company simply is a sustainable one because it was established under a value which stressed the importance of environmentally friendly operations.
Perhaps the most ironic aspect of greenwashing is that it can actually end up being good for the environment (231). As soon as a company starts hyping its environmental responsibility, legitimately or not, it creates enormous pressure for itself to follow through. It also invites...