Seven Sins of Greenwashing, Institute for Sustainable Communities, The Climate Daily Reforestation Campaign!

by | May 26, 2023 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

The Seven Sins of Greenwashing, plus the Institute for Sustainable Communities, and The Climate Daily Reforestation Campaign!



You’ve probably heard of the Seven Deadly Sins. What you might not have heard of are the Seven Sins of Greenwashing. They were developed in 2007 by a group called TerraChoice, which billed itself as a leading North American environmental marketing company. In 2007, in an effort to describe, understand and quantify the growth of greenwashing, the company developed a study of environmental claims made on products carried on category-leading big box store shelves. Based on the results of that study, the Seven Sins of Greenwashing were created

  1.  Sin of the Hidden Trade–Off:A claim suggesting that a product is green based on a narrow set of attributes without attention to other important environmental issues. Take electric hand dryers in bathrooms. If the electricity to power them is generated from coal-fired plants, then that’s worse for the climate than using trees, which are renewable resources. 

     2.  Sin of No Proof–An environmental claim not substantiated by easily accessible supporting information or by a reliable third-party certification.          Common examples are facial tissues or toilet tissue products that claim various percentages of post-consumer recycled content without providing evidence.

     3.  Sin of Vagueness–A claim that is so poorly defined or broad that its real meaning is likely to be misunderstood by the consumer. Take “all-natural.” Arsenic, uranium, and formaldehyde are all natural. All natural isn’t necessarily green.

Without going into details, here are the remaining four sins:

   4.  Sin of Worshiping False Labels–A product that, through either words or images, gives the impression of third-party endorsement where no such endorsement exists; fake labels, in other words.

   5.  Sin of Irrelevance–An environmental claim that may be truthful but is unimportant or unhelpful for consumers seeking environmentally preferable products. CFC-free is a common example, since it is a frequent claim despite the fact that CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) are banned under the Montreal Protocol.

  6.  Sin Of Lesser of Two Evils–A claim that may be true within the product category but that risks distracting the consumer from the greater environmental impacts of the category as a whole. Organic cigarettes or fuel-efficient sport-utility vehicles could be examples of this sin.

  7.  Sin of Fibbing–Environmental claims that are simply false. The most common examples are products falsely claiming to be ENERGY STAR® certified or registered.

Why do the Seven Deadly Sins of Greenwashing matter to us? the Seven Sins of Greenwashing were developed to help consumers identify products that made misleading environmental claims. Today, the Sins of Greenwashing remain a popular learning tool to help consumers evaluate sustainability claims. 

DEEPER DIVE: PR NewsWire, Seven Sins of Greenwashing,


The Institute for Sustainable Cities is an international, non-profit organization that works to support communities by creating, implementing, and scaling equitable climate change solutions for communities at the frontline of the global climate crisis. ISC was founded in 1991 by former Vermont Governor Madeleine M. Kunin and former ISC President George Hamilton.  Its mission is to create equitable, climate change solutions around the world by forming collaborative, people-focused partnerships that support communities disproportionately impacted by the global climate crisis.

According to its website, in its 32 years, ISC has led transformative, community-driven projects across the globe. Over the years, it’s developed an approach that supports a community’s ability to meet challenges head on. Its unique approach is bottom up, rather than top down. That approach ensures solutions emerge from within communities, rather than being imposed from the outside. By sharing international best practices and experiences, providing technical expertise and training, and building the capacity of local organizations, ISC supports innovative solutions and sustainable change.

ISC currently operates in five countries—the US, China, Bangladesh, India and Vietnam. And it focuses on five distinct approaches: Community Economic Development, Clean Energy Transition, Green Finance, Urban Systems and Water. Why does the Institute for Sustainable Cities matter to us? Because it embraces equity and inclusion as fundamental values. Also because it seeks to fully embed that in its programs, institutional culture and internal practices. And because ISC believes in dignity, fairness and equal opportunity for all human beings. Finally, ISC understands that people who have contributed the least to the global climate and environmental crisis suffer the most from its ill-effects, and that a history of discriminatory policies and practices have significantly increased the vulnerability of many communities.

DEEPER DIVE: ISC, Gov. Madeline M. Kunin



For many years, scientists have been warning that the rise in global temperature must be kept to below 1.5⁰C above pre-industrial levels in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change. It’s so important a benchmark, it’s been a rallying cry in the climate activist community since the Paris Accords of 2015.

According to a report released last week by the World Metrological Organization, that limit is about to be breached. It estimates there is a 66% chance that global temperatures will breach the 1.5⁰C limit by 2027. Depending upon who you talk to, that’s either three or thirteen years sooner than predicted. That’s not good. But there is hope. In the form of trees. Trillions of them.

The reality is trees are currently the best technology for capturing carbon dioxide, that greenhouse gas most responsible for global warming. It’s possible human beings will develop and scale up a technology that can rival the efficiency of Nature. But until then, our best hope is to plant a trillion trees by 2030, or sooner. That’s why we’re asking you to join our crowdfunding campaign—and our 30 tree planting partners to plant 10,000 trees at one time in one of seven regions around the world. Of course the tree-planting professionals will do all the planting.

That’s right. Join our other 201 crowdfunder partners and make a one time donation of $50 or $100 and become a climate champion. Go to, and at the top of the page, click on the words, “Climate Champion” and donate today. What’s a climate champion? A Climate Champion is someone who sees the impacts of climate change, experiences those changes themselves, and knows we cannot continue the way we have.  They’re someone who loves our green, blue and beautiful planet and wants the things they love about it to be there – just as green, blue and beautiful – for their children and their children’s children. 

A climate champion is one willing to take action to help change the current direction – so our fears don’t come to pass. Yeah, like two-time donor and two-time climate champion, Vicky Bonasera! We’re proud to be a champion for the earth and for the climate.  Come join us! Donate today. Go to, and at the top of the page, click on the words, “Climate Champion” and donate today

DEEPER DIVE: WMO Report,  50/100 Campaign, Trillion Tree Project