The Ultimate in Greenwashing

by Katy on July 22, 2008 · 2 comments


2009 "Carbon Neutral" Land Rover

2009 "Carbon Neutral" Land Rover


I was driving along a few weeks ago, when a radio ad came on telling me about how environmentally responsible it is to buy a brand-new Land Rover. What the . . . ?

Because the local dealership was buying carbon offsets for each vehicle purchased.

Was this a joke? A “War of The Worlds” type of pseudo-news for the 21st century? 

Sadly, no.

The Land Rover of Portland website boasts of its “carbon neutral” vehicles:

“Land Rover Portland has calculated the approximate carbon footprint made by driving a Land Rover for 50,000 miles. In partnership with The Conservation Fund, a top rated environmental non-profit organization, we provide 100% CO2 offset, for 50,000 miles of driving, with each new and Certified Pre-Owned Land Rover we sell. The Conservation Fund offsets this carbon production by planting and protecting sufficient trees in North America to absorb the CO2 produced.”

Nice try, but how stupid do they think American consumers are?!

The environmental impact of a shiny new Land Rover is not simply the first 50,000 miles. It’s the mining of all the raw materials, the shipping of materials to the factory(s), the shipping to the dealership, and everything involved with driving such a gluttonous low-mileage vehicle.

Carbon neutral? Hardly.

A 2008 Land Rover gets 12 miles-per-gallon (mpg) in the city or 18 freeway according to their website, but a quick google check came up with drivers actually getting more like 7.31 mpg.

No amount of tree planting makes up for this.

It’s like when a child does something awful, then thinks all is forgiven if they say the word, “sorry.” The word does not erase what has already happened.

I’d been wanting to write about the practice of “greenwashing,” which is described by Source Watch as:

“The unjustified appropriation of environmental virtue by a company, an industry, a government, a politician or even a non-government organization to create a pro-environmental image, sell a product or a policy, or to try and rehabilitate their standing with the public and decision makers after being embroiled in controversy.”

So, thank you — Land Rover of Portland. You’ve given me the perfect example of how to describe the practice of greenwashing.

For information about the true costs of manufacturing, check out Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff website.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sean August 3, 2008 at 4:26 pm

Greenwashing indeed! Land Rover, like its brethren the Hummer, Excursion and Suburban are running a bit scared these days with gas prices the way they are and the pool of “consumers” that they relied on so heavily during the “boom” shrinking daily. I agree with you Katy that is is a sad state of affairs, a bit of desperation if you will, on the part of these automakers and other manufacturers of environmentally irresponsible products to try to legitimize these purchases in the average person’s mind. Marketing gimmicks need to be set aside and real, marketable environmental changes need to occur by these companies (like, building fewer and smaller vehicles that use alternatives to gasoline), or step aside and close up shop if you can’t sell products that are environmetally responsible. Nice try Land Rover, Katy is right, were not that stupid.

Great thought provoking post!

Sean @ Bamboo Geek


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