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Greenwashing – The Latest in Slick Corporate 'Wellness' Marketing

Hello mis Ville vecinos (my Ville neighbors)! It’s Lena, your guest blogger from the wellness fast lane (sort of). 

Ya know, it’s hard enough to stick to my wellness journey – especially at the beginning – but, the greenwashing ads are slick and if I were a weak-minded person, they would really be a total distraction and detour.

Greenwashing is a relatively new term that describes how companies try to make their products and services appear more earth-friendly or ‘green’ than they actually are. Burns my shorts, it does.

I’m sure there are loads of them – please feel free to share your most annoying via the comments. Here are mine in decending order on the intellectual assault scale:

3) Clorox – There’s a commercial that shows a really caring father who, after having is first child – has stopped being Messy Marvin and cleaned up his act. The wife says she can’t believe the change in him. She’s smiling and beaming at the incredulity of it all. Hubby is there with his cleaning rag and rubber gloves, wiping off all the kids toys and putting them in a bucket with Clorox and water to be sanitized. They bounce in clips of the baby with his toys in his mouth to prove that kids put everything in their mouths. My question is: If you have to wear HUGE YELLOW LATEX GLOVES to use the product, how safe can toys wash in this corrosive substance be for your kid (who’s going to put those same toys in his mouth)???

2) S.C. Johnson – This commercial actually features the company’s Chairman & CEO telling you that they are doing everything they can to make sure products like Windex and Pledge are not harmful to the environment and our families. To add insult to injury, he then goes on to state that his father – the company founder – got rid of CFC’s in their products years before they were mandated to do so.  That gives him the ‘credibility cloud’ to float on for the rest of the commercial. Then the commercial goes on to show really studious-looking scientists in lab coats in a greenhouse (talk about subliminal) supposedly taking herbal specimens from plants and herbs.  Are you kidding me??? I don’t care WHAT you do to these products – short of not making them anymore or totally changing how they are produced and their ingredients – they’ll never be good for us or the environment. Period.

1) Whole wheat white bread. All I have to say is I’m really leery of shortcuts. Really leery. Yes, white whole wheat boasts the same high levels of fiber, minerals and vitamins as red whole wheat (traditional wheat).  But, what they’re not telling you is that although products made with the new whole wheat white flour may technically 100% whole grain (just sporting a lighter look):

  • Extra dough conditioners might be added to give this ‘new’ bread the same soft, squishy feel that most people like about traditional white bread. I don’t know about you but I don’t need extra dough anything.
  • Many people say that whole wheat white bread tastes sweeter than traditional whole wheat bread. You can thank extra doses of high fructose corn syrup for that.
  • And then there’s the science…the phytochemical component. That’s fancy talk for – you know how traditional whole wheat bread helps your body fight cancer and provides antioxidants and other good things to help your body? Ummm….not so much with whole wheat white.

Bottomline: Most shortcuts to wellness usually stink. And, as my Aunt Agnes says, “This rat stinks loud.”

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  1. I love your aunt’s comment. I really get that.

    I totally agree with your comments about advertisers making products look healthy when they’re not. Let’s talk about the fancy designer drinks with minerals, herbs, weight-loss potions, and fructose! and other fake ingredients – they’re listed way at the bottom. They burn my shorts too!

    And then there are all of the children’s cereals that have at least one piece of colorful fruit on the package – but there’s little or no fruit in the product. They want us to feel good about the products we purchase so they make them pretty – wellness looking. I hereby deputize you, Lena West, as the 007 food cop. Who else wants to be deputized?

    I frequently say that I’m not a food cop when giving presentations about wellness. I believe people can eat what they want and do what they want–without my judgment. My only job is to inspire them to use a few wellness tools that I have in my bag of tricks. Wellness is all about self-responsibility – not big brother or sister (or wellness educator).

    But it occurred to me the other day that I am a food cop when it comes to monolithic agribusinesses and advertising firms that know exactly the nuance in sucker packaging that will cause us to lose our logic. Let’s bust ’em! Food Cop deputies everywhere – UNITE!

  2. Lena West says:


    Yeah, Aunt Agnes is a hoot.

    Oh, the food companies are just the worst. The good thing is you can always read the ingredients like you said. At least having ingredients on the package is the law now.

    I heartily accept my deputization! I’m honored!

    I totally love what you have to say about being a food cop when it comes to agribusiness. Sometimes being a cop is necessary.



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