'It's not that easy being green': Greenwashing of environmental discourses in advertising

Jennifer Katrina Budinsky, University of Windsor


While environmental problems increase exponentially, our fate rests on the long-term sustainability of the earth. Under our reigning political framework of free-market fundamentalism, corporations are appropriating environmental discourses through green capitalism and greenwashing. There is a need to problematize the corporate discourses that put a price on nature and obfuscate the domination of nature by capital. I use an eco-Marxist framework to examine the ways environmental products are represented through television advertising. I hypothesize that the discourses reinforce environmental stereotypes aligned with corporate interests, and naturalize the capitalist mode of thinking. I analyze three representations: Clorox Green Works cleaning products, and the Ford Escape Hybrid and Toyota Prius motor vehicles. I perform a multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) on the advertising discourses of these products to examine how the companies represent the products as environmentally responsible while continuing to shape the discourses to suit the neo-liberal agenda.