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How Some Businesses Misrepresent Their Environmental Record

University Of Michigan Brand
University of Michigan

'Brownwashing', as it is called, isn't what one would expect.

A University of Michigan studied has identified a new way some businesses misrepresent their environmental track record. The method might come as a surprise.

Environmentalist often worry that companies are greenwashing, or overstating their environmentally-friendly practices. A new U-M study found some utilities are under-reporting their green efforts. Professor, Tom Lyon, says what companies communicate depends on what audience they need to address. This mean companies that are growing and in need of regulatory approval may greenwash, while struggling companies have other concerns. Lyon stated that if struggling companies are "trying to appease investors who are pressuring them not to waste precious financial resources, then they brownwash."

Lyon says it appears to be a backlash against the belief that it always pays to be green. Lyon hopes to continue his research in other industries, and in other countries.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter— Andrew Cluley is the Ann Arbor beat reporter, and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him acluley@emich.edu.       

Like many, I first came to this area when I started school at the University of Michigan, then fell in love with the community and haven’t left. After graduating from U of M in the mid 1990’s I interned at WDET for several years, while also working a variety of jobs in Ann Arbor. Then in 1999 I joined the WEMU news team.