Greenwashing 101: What Companies Will Do To Get Your Dollars

By Kristie Turck •  Published 11/04/11 •  3 min read

I was lying in bed last night watching Vampire Diaries (don’t judge me…  I like angst ridden teen television.) when a commercial for Pantene Nature Fusion Shampoo came on.  It was the typical Eva Mendez flipping her unnaturally shiny hair around and pouting her big lips at me trying to sell me shampoo to make my hair “stronger” and unbreakable like a super hero.  This is the kind of commerical I am used to. Basic marketing baloney to sell a product.

But what got my attention was the marketing language for this new “Nature Fusion”  shampoo. “Want to make a healthy choice for your hair, and a healthy choice for the environment?”.  Hold on.  Back up a second.

Pantene saw an opportunity, like every other large company, to take advantage of consumers wanting safer and more environmentally safe products.  So instead of cleaning up the products they already sell (like J&J did with their new “Natural” line of baby shampoo) they add a “natural” product line to their arsenal to draw you in.  To make it seem like they are really trying, Pantene claims their Nature Fusion shampoo is packaged in a 59%  plant based plastic bottle – but not the cap. Wow! All 59% of it? You really must love the planet, Pantene.

This is an ingredients list for their new Nature Fusion shampoo:

Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Xylene Sulfonate, Cocamide MEA, Cassia Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Calendula (Calendula Officinalis) Flower Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract (Ginger), Panthenol, Panthenyl Ethyl Ether, Citric Acid, Dimethiconol, Fragrance, Sodium Benzoate, Disodium EDTA, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Sodium Citrate, Yellow 5, Orange 4

My point here is that if they really cared about the environment and saving the planet, they wouldn’t be selling products that contain harmful chemicals, which get washed down the drain and into our water systems, polluting our environment.  They toss in a minute amount of aloe and flower extracts and they can call it natural.  But it’s far from it.  Providing it in a partially plant based bottle? That’s just their way of pretending to be environmentally conscious so that your money goes into their wallets.

Top it off with a gorgeous high paid actress and you’ve got yourself some classic Greenwashing.