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Masters of the Greenwash

Why spend millions to scrub the carbon out of your fossil-fuel-based operation when a slick ad agency can whip up the same green buzz for a fraction of the price? During the last 10 years, as environmentalism has captured the public mind, numerous legacy industries have done just that. Here are some..

Why spend millions to scrub the carbon out of your fossil-fuel-based operation when a slick ad agency can whip up the same green buzz for a fraction of the price? During the last 10 years, as environmentalism has captured the public mind, numerous legacy industries have done just that. Here are some egregious green-talking offenders whose environmental claims just don't wash.Rating numbers come from greenwashingindex.com, a site that evaluates environmental claims in advertising and asks users to rank them on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the worst. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n


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General Electric 3.7

\nThe Wash GE-the company that sullied the Hudson River with PCBs then tried to avoid cleaning up the mess-recently launched its "Ecomagination" campaign. It is a masterpiece of magical-industrial realism, with globe-trotting frogs, toothsome coal miners, and a brave little boy who captures the wind in a glass jar.

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Dow Chemical 4.38

\nThe Wash Dow's "Human Element" spots suggest that chemists are New Age sorcerers concerned with "the grandness of the scheme," and "all things connected." No mention is made of Agent Orange, a carcinogenic spray manufactured by Dow (among others) and dropped on 3.6 million acres during the Vietnam War to kill crops and strip trees.

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CSX 3.4

\nThe Wash With "How Tomorrow Moves," CSX suggests that its fuel-efficient rails clean the air while carrying most every product we consume. "If it's going to be in your life," one spot boasts, "it'll probably be on our trains." Yes, along with thousands of tons of planet-killing coal.

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BP 3.05

\nThe Wash The oil company formerly called British Petroleum spent a reported $200 million on a green makeover, swapping its shield for a sunburst and installing solar generators at gas stations. The "B" now means "beyond," though the bulk of BP's balance sheet is stuck in the petroleum-fueled present.

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Electricité de France 3.4

\nThe Wash Set to "It's Not Easy Being Green," EDF caps 60 seconds of presidential speeches and old cartoons with a promise to reduce its carbon intensity by 60 percent by 2020. At the center of this ambitious plan are EDF's 58 nuclear reactors, which account for three-quarters of its megawatt output.