The term greenwashing is reported as first being used in 1986 by U.S. environmentalist and activist Jay Westerveld. He used the term in his essay about the way hotels were claiming to be environmentally friendly by posting “green” placards in hotel rooms. The purpose of these signs was to request guests to reuse towels rather than expecting them to be washed every day, ostensibly to save energy and natural resources.

Westerveld’s contention was that such signs were not part of a bona fide attempt to engage in green activity but were in fact simply a mechanism for increasing profits. His term greenwashing has come to refer to the practice of misleading consumers about the apparent efforts of an organization to be environmentally friendly, especially when this ...

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