By Barbara Kessler

Green washers are taking consumers and taxpayers for a joy ride of deception that will have real costs, both environmentally and economically, if the companies aren’t exposed. So says Greenpeace, the venerable greenwash.jpgenvironmental watchdog group, which used Earth Day to unveil its new website against green washing, stopgreenwash.org. The website seeks to show how some automobile, oil, coal and nuclear power companies are “using a green curtain to conceal dark motives.”

That’s right Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore. And Greenpeace will be posting three initial investigative pieces, examining nuclear power, the “clean coal” campaign and General Motors’ “Gas Friendly to Gas Free” promotion, to prove it.

Greenpeace says green washing is nothing new, but ebbs and flows in concert with public’s interest in green issues, with the latest surge in interest producing a tidal wave of green washing. Greenpeace first published a guide to green washing in 1992, called the Greenpeace Book of Greenwash. The group is making that booklet and other helpful publications are available on the new website’s history pages.

The website also has sections on how to take action against green washing (coming from Greenpeace, this is learning at the feet of the master) and interactive features that allow readers to post examples of green washing as they find it. Greenpeace’s criteria for crying “green wash” is posted on its criteria page. There are just four main game plays to watch for according to Greenpeace: 1 – A company is engaged in a “polluting or unsustainable” business as it brags about some much smaller “boutique green R&D project”; 2 – A company uses ads to exaggerate an environmental achievement to divert attention from its environmental problems or spends more money touting the achievement than actually performing the green feat; 3 – A firm is advertising its green accomplishments or intentions while lobbying against pending laws or regulations that would improve the environmental conditions; 4 – a company touts green achievements that were already required by law.

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