Greenwashing | ECTC


By Sunny Schofield

I am currently a college sophomore majoring in computer science, and I plan to transfer to the University of Kentucky to finish my four-year degree. I was born in Japan and have lived abroad for most of my life. My interests include art, fashion, and linguistics. I hope to pursue a career in IT as either a program or web designer. I wrote this essay for Anthropology 101 class.

Anthropology 101 Essay - Greenwashing

Lydia Noyes’s (2021) article “A Guide to Greenwashing and How to Spot It” for EcoWatch is a comprehensive guide to the growing trend of “greenwashing.” Greenwashing is a marketing tactic used by corporations to create the illusion of new eco-friendly policies when in reality, little has changed. The article delves into the greenwashing techniques used by various companies including General Motors, Apple, Amazon, and Shein. General Motors, for example, claim to be cutting down carbon emissions and supporting tax credits for consumers with electric cars. However, the CEO of General Motors lobbied against the Reconciliation Bill which called for regulating carbon emissions (Noyes, 2021). This is one of the many ways greenwashing is used to distract the general public from the environmental harm caused by large corporations. Greenwashing companies effectively promote their products’ supposed sustainability while doing little to reduce their own environmental footprint. In many cases, their supposedly eco-friendly products cause more damage than their normal products due to their manufacturing processes. Noyes (2021) noted that Starbucks’s straw-less lids use more plastic to create than their previous lids and straws. Greenwashing is a contemporary social problem that results in more environmental damage, a misled public, and an increasing demand for sweatshops.

This problem could be addressed most appropriately by cultural anthropologists. Cultural anthropologists understand consumer buying habits and the effects of advertising. Consumerism and marketing are aspects of contemporary culture which are studied extensively through ethnographic accounts. While environmental scientists can propose sustainable materials and practices, cultural anthropologists could directly confront greenwashing as a marketing tactic. According to Noyes, greenwashing could be subdued through advertising regulations that would require companies to further support their claims of sustainability. She declared that these regulations would “increase transparency between brands and ensure that improving their environmental footprint becomes a viable way to compete” (para. 46). Working for private companies and government organizations, cultural anthropologists actively impact marketing policies and techniques. Therefore, they can, as Noyes suggested, use their influence to promote transparency and introduce environmental initiatives as a new way for companies to compete.


Noyes, L. (2021, October 21). A Guide to Greenwashing and How to Spot It. EcoWatch.