Cos’è il Greenwashing: attenzione alla sostenibilità solo apparente

What is Greenwashing: attention to sustainability only apparent

What is greenwashing? What is its definition? How is it managed in Italy? The greenwashing is a type of misleading advertising whereby companies promote environmental values even though they don't actually do anything to advance these ideals. Let's find out more about how these marketing strategies work. Through awareness and information we can make informed purchasing choices. Let's take a closer look at this world.


Literally the word "greenwashing"is composed of two words: "green", that is "green", and "washing", that is "washing". The term indicates all those communication strategies implemented by companies, brands, organizations, etc. that consist in a façade ecologism or environmentalism, a sort of "green washing", but only external. The objective of these moves is to build an image that promotes a low environmental impact, without the company implementing real actions in this sense. In this way, they try to make themselves more appealing in the eyes of all those who fight for the environment, simply trying to sell their products to a wider segment of consumers. In some cases greenwashing is also implemented to try to change one's bad reputation.


Among the new marketing strategies is the greenwashingcompanies are not content to offer quality products, but rather, to divert attention from the flaws of what they sell trying to make themselves carriers of values that do not actively share. This dynamic is implemented when a company realizes that society is sensitive to environmental issues and, thus, becomes its ambassador, even if only at the level of facade. Environmental issues are not the only ones that are exploited in this way. Strategies akin to greenwashingStrategies similar to greenwashing, aimed at shifting the customer's attention, are:

  • pinkwashing, which focuses on fighting cancer or promoting women's empowerment;
  • genderwashing which focuses on breaking down gender differences and seeks to eliminate stereotypes;
  • rainbowwashing, which seeks to put inclusivity towards homosexuality and the LGBTQ+ community first.

What distinguishes all these strategies is the fact that the company exploits positive values to increase its sales or to improve its image, but then in practice does not implement strategies consistent with the values it promotes. At the heart of the dynamic is a strong inconsistency between what is said and what is done.


It is believed that the concept of greenwashing was Jay Westerveld, an environmentalist from the United States who, in 1986, realized that some hotel chains were promoting environmentalism by inviting clients to use fewer towels in order to reduce washing and consequent pollution. It was easy to see that the real motivations behind this invitation were economic in nature.

Another example is that of the Levissima brand which sells water in plastic bottles. The company implemented a campaign in which it boasted and showed off its love for the environment, nature and the ecosystem. However, today everyone knows how plastic pollution is harmful to the environment and a problem that must be actively solved.


In Italy the greenwashing was under the control of the Antitrust indicated as misleading advertising until 2014. Then, the Istituto Autodisciplina Pubblicitaria (Advertising Self-Discipline Institute) proposed to indicate this practice as an abuse of statements referring to the protection of the environment. Today the greenwashing in Italy is to all intents and purposes a misleading advertising that is monitored by the 'by the Italian Antitrust Authority. Several sentences have been issued against various companies.

As R5 we put transparency among our values and we are committed to the respect and truthfulness of our statements.

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