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Sarah Gilbert
Environmental Lawyer
Asked a question 9 months ago

How can we avoid greenwashing?

Where am I?

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Raul Crawford
Water Resources Specialist

You can’t avoid it but you can look carefully and be aware of it.

If something is advertised as “Green” it is usually a con. The clever wording is what fools you into thinking it is better than what you usually use, so look out for clever wording and think twice. It does not only happen with “Green” items, for example the ladies at our local supermarket were rushing to get the special offer on sausages, at only $10 per pack of 3. A packet of sausages is $2.30 each and the special offer sold out within a few minutes. The supermarket did not cheat the ladies and the ladies were happy to have got the special offer before they sold out. Sausages were only $6.90 for 3 packs at ordinary price.

LED companies are very good at Greenwashing. Look carefully at how they twist the words. They claim that LEDs are brighter than filament lamps. Their demonstration of this is by using a 10 watt filament lamp and a 10 watt LED lamp at a distance of 1 metre from a LUX meter which measures brightness at a 1 inch light sensor. The LED gave 10 Lux of brightness and the filament lamp only 5 LUX at the sensor , so the LED company claims LED is brighter than a filament lamp. BUT the LED shines ONLY in the 6 inch circle around the sensor with no light at all outside this circle, leaving a room in darkness except for the 6 inch spot, whereas the filament lamp lights up the whole room, all around, so in total brightness around the room the filament lamp is much brighter than the LED. The LED company still insists the LED is brighter than a filament lamp but never mentions this is only in the 6 inch spot measured.

Another clever twist of words states that LED uses less energy. A 60 watt LED lamp uses less energy than a 100 watt filament lamp. BUT they never mention that the 60 watt LED lamp gives 50% LESS area brightness. So a 60 watt filament lamp also uses less energy but gives more area brightness than a 60 watt LED.

Always look at the words carefully if something is advertised as “Green” and see where the con is.