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The term greenwashing was coined by New York environmentalist Jay Westerveld in a 1986 essay regarding the hotel industry’s practice of placing placards in each room promoting reuse of towels ostensibly to "save the environment". Westerveld noted that, in most cases, little or no effort toward waste recycling was being implemented by these institutions, due in part to the lack of cost-cutting affected by such practice.

Westerveld opined that the actual objective of this "green campaign" on the part of many hoteliers was, in fact, increased profit. Westerveld hence monitored this and other outwardly environmentally conscientious acts with a greater, underlying purpose of profit increase as greenwashing.

The term is generally used when significantly more money or time has been spent advertising being green (that is, operating with consideration for the environment), rather than spending resources on environmentally sound practices. This is often portrayed by changing the name or label of a product to evoke the natural environment or nature - for example, putting an image of a forest on a bottle containing harmful chemicals. Environmentalists often use greenwashing to describe the actions of energy companies, which are traditionally the largest polluters.

Here are the 10 signs of Greenwashing:

1. Fluffy language

Words or terms with no clear meaning, e.g. ‘eco-friendly’

2. Green products v dirty company

Such as efficient light bulbs made in a factory which pollutes rivers

3. Suggestive pictures

Green images that indicate a (un-justified) green impact e.g. flowers blooming from exhaust pipes

4. Irrelevant claims

Emphasising one tiny green attribute when everything else is un-green

5. Best in class?

Declaring you are slightly greener than the rest, even if the rest are pretty terrible

6. Just not credible

‘Eco friendly’ cigarettes anyone? ‘Greening’ a dangerous product doesn’t make it safe

7. Gobbledygook

Jargon and information that only a scientist could check or understand

8. Imaginary friends

A ‘label’ that looks like third party endorsement …except it’s made up

9. No proof

It could be right, but where’s the evidence?

10. Out-right lying

Totally fabricated claims or data

With that said, the following terminology is often associated with truthful green claims; solar-generated power, water-saving devices, recycled materials from eco-friendly sources, thermal solar hot water, system efficiency and energy-efficient components.

Website: http://www.go-green.ae

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