Greenwashing: Are You Sure to Be Eco-friendly?


Why I like clever lies better than obvious lies

Have you ever watched “The Sting” one of the classic movies from Hollywood? I believe it’s a masterpiece of a con-game movie. If I were the gang boss tricked by Paul Newman and Robert Redford in the movie, I wouldn’t feel like getting revenge but would reward them for the well-thought lie, on the contrary. Mind you. It’s not because I’m generous with a big heart. I think it’s because I can see distinct signs that they spent a lot of time and effort on preparation to deceive me. I feel rather uncomfortable about obvious lies and believe most of you would feel the same. Why do you think that is?

What is a lie?

Let’s start by defining what a lie is. Imagine a case where a girl is alone in a deserted island. She is talking aloud to herself “I’m having a date tonight!” Is this a lie? I don’t think so, though being concerned about her state of mind. Let me give you another example. We’ve learned from history that all the nations will perish sooner or later, but we give credit to government notes (paper money). Do we live on a spectacular lie? Don’t you think there’s something that matters more than whether it may or may not be true? The point is whether it inflicts a loss to others or not. I guess we feel rather uncomfortable about obvious lies because feeling underestimated as easy targets.

The back shot of a sofa that looks like a bench as well. It has a wood frame, and the cushion part is upholstered with leather.

Sales copies sometimes sound too good to be true

As epidemic as the COVID in the market these days would be the eco words. Many of sales copies and taglines are colored by ostentatious words such as eco-friendly, SDGs, LOHAS, etc. To be honest, they sometimes get on my nerves. I don’t mean to condemn all of them are obvious lies, but can’t help feeling a little skeptical. We’ve learned through real business situations how hard it is to simultaneously pursue both environmental protection and economic benefit.

For example, in order to decrease the waste volumes of materials like wood and leather, we’ve started to use them to the last small piece by patching them up. Do you think that’s better economically as well? No way! That’s more costly due to more processing time. Making matters worse, we’re facing with some complaints from the market: “Patches make furniture look cheaper.” “Why not give more discount?” I know it’s important to put an ideal into words because we are bound by words, but I still have a little doubt if such many businesses (with ostentatious company missions) are brave enough to go through this thorny path.

Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.

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