Pretending to be green is MEAN

CSR stands for corporate social responsibility and it is a term which describes how organisations impact upon the society in which they operate in and we live in. CSR focuses on lots of things including ethical trading, environmental impact, working standards, contribution to educational and social programs.

Lately I’ve been interested in how organisations are contributing to improving our society and the environment. Consumer awareness surrounding the issues regarding the environment is becoming increasingly discussed, and companies often use CSR to gain competitive advantage. The question is how many of these activities are genuinely impacting our environment?

Myers (2018) explains the term greenwashing as  ‘using public relations and marketing practice of exaggerating or misrepresenting the environmental benefits and friendliness of products, services, policies, or practices’. Companies are taking small but simple steps to reduce their environmental impact, for example, pub franchises introducing the use of paper straws, but how many of these are individually wrapped in plastic?

Coffee chains claim they are recycling paper cups once returned to stores, however are individual stores carrying out the procedures to ensure this is happening? Back in 2015 we saw the scandal from the organisation Volkswagen cheating emission tests by making the their cars seem less polluting than they were (The Guardian, 2015). This cost the company $30 billion (CNN, 2017) and a pretty damaged reputation, which must have been hell for Volkswagen’s PR team!

However we cant forget about the organisations that conduct positive CSR! Iceland’s Christmas advert alarmed people about the effects in which palm oil has on the environment. The advert went viral on social media sites after it was banned from TV for being ‘too political’. Before this advert a lot of people were unaware of palm oil and the effects it was having on the environment and the orangutans. Iceland have now stopped using palm oil in its products in an effort to boycott the palm oil farming industry. Since then, national petitions have been released to try and ban the sale of products containing unsustainable sourced palm oil. I now personally have a much higher opinion towards Iceland and increased awareness about the palm oil industry.

Iceland’s advert is a clear example of why being an organisation which is socially responsible can have a positive impact your reputation. In a society which is becoming more aware of our environmental impact, I’m interested to see how future organisational campaigns use their resources to promote positive corporate social responsibility.

Author: Hannah Napier


Riley, C, 2017. Volkswagen’s diesel scandal costs hit $30 billion. CNN, 29 September 2017. Available at: (Accessed: 28th December 2018)

Myers, A. (2018) ‘Greenwashing’, Salem Press Encyclopedia. Available at: (Accessed: 28th December 2018).

Topham, G, 2015. The Volkswagen Emissions Scandal Explained. The Gaurdian, 23 September 2015. Available at: 28th December 2018)

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