Greenwashing in adverising has become more sophisticated, says the Toronto Environmental Alliance

By Adria Vasil

NOW Magazine, December 9th, 2015

This year’s big winner/loser? German automaker Volkswagen, which scored its own dedicated award category, Volkswagen: Das bullshit, for lying to the EPA and faking emissions testing. 

“They spent years and years pretending to be green, with ads saying their cars were helping nature,” says TEA’s Franz Hartmann. 

Two and a half decades into the event, Hartmann says eco-BS in advertising has evolved. “Twenty-five years ago, greenwashing was simpler and more obvious to see how silly it was. Today, companies have gotten more sophisticated.” But while VW may have slipped under most radars for years with its “For those who care about nature” branding, other companies are still pretty flagrant about using and abusing nature to shill their goods. One nominee, Diesel jeans, ran a whole ad campaign touting its half-naked models as “global warming ready.”

The awards don’t just make fun of greenwash; there’s also a “best use of dead animals” category and one poking fun at toys with environmentally destructive themes, like a Lego logging truck.  

Either way, the stream of ecobunk in advertising isn’t likely to let up. “I suspect we may be doing this for another 25 years,” says Hartmann. 

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