Green marketing is the practice of actively associating a product offering with ideas relevant to environmental sustainability.
This can be distinguished from sustainability marketing in that it is more narrowly focused on benefits to the environment.
Greenwashing is the act of misleading others into believing that a product offering is more sustainable than it is.
Greenwashing manifests in a wide range of activities, whether deliberate or due to negligence, including omission of relevant information, focus on partial details, misdirection from important aspects, and using receiver’s inferences, e.g., unrelated images of nature in advertising, to generate sustainability associations. It also includes fraudulent claims and gaslighting that deliberately misstate information relevant to sustainability.
To avoid greenwashing, companies should be truthful, transparent, and use language consumers can understand to discuss sustainability.
Greendazzling, a form of greenwashing, involves attempts to distract from major sustainability failings by drawing attention to a positive aspect that is attention-grabbing.
Greenhushing occurs when actions that are genuinely sustainable are deliberately downplayed. It might occur for a number of reasons including fear of a backlash from those who do not agree with the sustainable aims, or, conversely, that mentioning the success will be perceived by those who agree with the sustainable aims as greenwashing given other non-sustainable activities are being performed or may be perceived to exist.
- Universal Marketing Dictionary Project, 2023.