Greenwashing and the First Amendment

May 08, 2024

Led by: Sarah E. Light, Mitchell J. Blutt and Margo Krody Blutt Presidential Professor, and Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Recent explosive growth in environmental and climate-related marketing claims by business firms has raised concerns about the truthfulness of these claims. Critics argue (or at least question whether) such claims constitute greenwashing, which refers to a set of deceptive marketing practices in which an entity publicly misrepresents or exaggerates the positive environmental impact of a product, a service, or the entity itself.  The extent to which greenwashing can be regulated consistent with the First Amendment raises thorny doctrinal questions that have bedeviled both courts and scholars. The answers to these questions have implications far beyond environmental marketing claims.

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