"It's Not Easy Being Green": The Greenwashing of Environmental Discourses in Advertising


  • Jennifer Budinsky York and Ryerson University
  • Susan Bryant University of Windsor




Environmental Communication, Critical Discourse Analysis, Advertising, Green Capitalism


Under the political framework of free-market fundamentalism, corporations are appropriating environmental discourses through green capitalism and greenwashing. For environmental emancipation to occur, it is important to problematize the corporate discourses that put a price on nature and obfuscate the domination of nature by capital. The authors use an environmental political-economy framework to examine the ways particular products are represented through television advertising. Using a multimodal critical discourse analysis, they analyze three representations—Clorox Green Works cleaning products, the Ford Escape Hybrid, and Toyota Prius motor vehicles—in order to deconstruct and analyze how specific advertisements operate and how they contribute to problematic environmental discourses.

Cet article analyse le fait que sous le système politique contemporain, les corporations sont en train d’approprier les discours environnementales par un processus qu’on peut appeler le « capitalisme vert. » C’est important de problèmatiser ce phenomène pour montrer comment ces discours commodifie la nature et obscurcie la domination de la nature par le capital. Les auteurs commencent avec l’approche politique-economique environnementale pour examiner les façons dont lesquels trois produits sont presentés dans les publicités televisées. La méthode d’analyse critique des discours est employée pour considérer trois représentations: Clorox Green Works, Ford Escape Hybrid, et Toyota Prius. Le but est de déconstruire et d’analyser comment certains exemples de publicités operènt et contribuent à des discours environnementales problematiques.

Author Biographies

Jennifer Budinsky, York and Ryerson University

Jennifer Budinsky has completed her first year as a PhD student in the Communication and Culture program offered jointly through York and Ryerson University, 3013 TEL Centre, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3. Email: jennbudins@gmail.com.


Susan Bryant, University of Windsor

Susan Bryant, Ph.D. is a Sessional Lecturer in the Department of Communication, Media and Film at the University of Windsor, 401 Sunset Avenue, Windsor, ON N9B 3P4.  Email: bryants@uwindsor.ca.