Green or greenwash?

A hazy day in Los Angeles


LISA NAPOLI: Green is the word at Big Blue. Today IBM is expected to announce a billion dollar initiative to save energy. The company maintains 8 million square feet of data centers worldwide. This week corporate imagemakers are gathering in San Francisco to talk about this trend among companies to get all tree huggy. Marketplace Sustainability reporter Sarah Gardner wonders how to figure out which of these declarations is real and what's just a PR move:

SARAH GARDNER: Conservative Rupert Murdoch says that News Corporation will go carbon-neutral and boost programming on climate change.

It seems safe to say green is now corporate mainstream. But how many companies are really green versus greenwashers?

JOEL MAKOWER: Well greenwashing, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Joel Makower of Greenbiz.com says there's no Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval when it comes to corporate environmentalism. What's changed though, he argues, are many of the critics.

MAKOWER: What you're seeing are groups like Environmental Defense, who was formed with the slogan "Sue the Bastards," all of a sudden engaging companies. They're one of the companies that brought TXU to the table. They're one of the companies actively engaging Wal-Mart in how to be greener and cleaner. And they realized we need these companies."

This week, 12 major corporations, including General Motors, added their names to a business alliance calling for federal regulation of greenhouse gases.

I'm Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

About the author

Sarah Gardner is a reporter on the Marketplace sustainability desk covering sustainability news spots and features.
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