When I first got into activism in Oregon, my first thought was “oh! Oregon’s a green state. They probably have a lot of environmental programs; it should be easy to get involved”. Now I realize a lot of the green propaganda I was seeing was a result of “greenwashing”.
Greenwashing is where companies, politicians, groups, etc. convey a false impression of how environmentally friendly they are. They make claims about being “pro-environment”, to get a green stamp of approval. But once those politicians receive a position or those companies receive funding, their claims go unsupported.
I’ve been exposed to this through research in my area of Corvallis. The Corvallis City Council had an election this last November and to my joy everyone running was running on a “pro-environment” stance. Yet, looking into them, I was very disappointed. Seven out of the nine newly elected councilors have already served on the city council from 2019-2020. Though they said they were “pro-environment”, Corvallis’ greenhouse gases have only gone up, according to the Community Greenhouse Gas report the City of Corvallis released this month. If being “pro-environment” is believing we need to take climate action, as so many of them stated, why haven’t they been taking action?
Being “pro-environment” shouldn’t be a sticker we slap on to any candidate or company; It should be meaningful and not paper-thin. Being pro-environment should be actually doing the work to fight for a just transition and equitable climate future.
I have the utmost faith communities across Oregon will create a sustainable future for everyone, (the works already starting at the state level). But to do this we need to make sure we see through the “green politics” & greenwashing that takes place in towns across Oregon, not just Corvallis. Don’t assume your home is immune to the effects of greenwashing.
A helpful way to double check the work of your local politicians is to research some of the projects they’re investing in. Researching upcoming policy proposals in your area is a great first step.
Greenwashing is happening all over Oregon. The way to stop this is by being critical of what politicians & companies present to us; and continuing the grassroots effort to build an equitable & sustainable future.
Here are some helpful links to look into on greenwashing: Is that building really “green” because it was constructed with wood? Is burning trash really “green” energy?
By Salah Miller, Our Climate Oregon Fellow