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What is Greenwishing?
Blog...What is Greenwishing?

What is Greenwishing?

This article will explain what greenwishing is, the main difference between greenwishing and greenwashing, examples, and how your company can utilize greenwishing.

The amount of eoc-terms people and businesses have to remember these days can feel overwhelming, especially when they begin to sound like climate change terms that already exist – such as greenwishing, which is reminiscent of greenwashing. 

Greenwishing refers to the concept of “wishing” for the world to transition to more sustainable practices in line with green living.  

In our modernized world, while our technological advancements remain exciting – it is also important for us to make adjustments to our lifestyles and business practices in order to align with the needs of the planet.

👉 This article will explain what greenwishing is, the main difference between greenwishing and greenwashing, examples, and how your company can utilize greenwishing.

What is the definition of greenwishing?

Greenwishing is a conjoint term which encompasses both the concepts of “going green”, referring to improved efforts towards sustainability, and “wishing” – ultimately creating a word which expresses one’s desire for something to be more sustainable or eco-friendly. 

Greenwishing is often used for companies which have altered their business models to be in line with green ethics, but in a mindless manner – meaning the company has set unrealistic goals for themselves.

Think of greenwishing like someone trying to manifest more money into their life. While the law-of-attraction may exist, positive thinking should be done in combination with effective action in order to yield the results you want. The same goes for companies that implement unattainable sustainability or emission reduction goals for their company.

It’s good to be ambitious with your sustainability goals, but it’s equally as important to set attainable objectives that are approachable and achievable. Companies which commit to greenwishing often do not understand the importance of this part of setting emission reduction or general sustainability goals.  

Some signs of a company which is greenwishing may include:

  • Sharing their desire to change all of their suppliers in a short amount of time
  • Claiming to reach certain emission reduction targets in a skeptical time period
  • Companies making an effort to go green even if their goals aren’t attainable
  • Suddenly seeking the use of green IT or other carbon capture technologies to reach the desired targets, even if unachievable in the time frame set
  • Advocating on social media or elsewhere on the importance of new environmental regulations 

👉 Ultimately, greenwishing refers to the concept of hoping for personal habits, businesses, and products to become greener – with the company going to the extent of setting unrealistic targets in hope of their company becoming “greener” as a result.

person making a wish with dandelion

Why is greenwishing important to understand?

It’s important to understand greenwishing in order to understand the thought process behind companies that fall subject to greenwishing. 

The good thing about greenwishing is that it demonstrates the desire for companies wanting to become more sustainable. However, it can keep companies from actually reducing their emissions or making progress in sustainability due to the unrealistic goals set.

Despite the potential drawbacks of greenwishing, there are benefits to the concept – such as:

  • Desire Become More Sustainable – The best thing about greenwishing is that it reveals companies truly want to become more sustainable than they currently are.
  • Real Effort is Made – Even if the steps to become more sustainable are often achievable in the timeframe companies give themselves, companies who fall subject to greenwishing are often taking appropriate action of some sort to rectify their current negative habits.
  • Advocate for a Greener Future – Companies which practice greenwishing will often be very vocal about their desire for greater climate legislation in addition to cultivating greater community engagement to pioneer the movement towards environmental reform.
  • Personal Reflection – Greenwishing can provoke people to reflect on their own environmental impact. This means that even if the goals set on behalf of companies currently committed to greenwishing are unattainable, it can still be good for the business and one’s personal life. 
  • Newfound Creativity – Greenwishers will often be inspired to develop new technologies with reducing environmental impact in mind. This could help spur new ideas for renewable energy, green infrastructure, or products such as eco-friendly cosmetics. 

It is important to note that the essence of greenwishing is the hope for better days ahead. Therefore, even if greenwishing often results in companies failing to set achievable environmental goals – the heart of greenwishing is usually in the right place and can still inspire change. 

👉 Overall, while greenwishing can prohibit companies from achieving attainable emission reduction or sustainability goals – it can still help to cultivate a growing awareness and commitment to environmental reform.

products in reusable produce bag

What is the difference between greenwishing and greenwashing?

The main difference between greenwishing and greenwashing is that greenwishing refers to a company expressing the desire to become more green – whereas greenwashing is a less genuine, more misleading practice that sways consumers to think a company is more environmentally responsible than they actually are.

Greenwishing is often done without harm in mind, while greenwashing is more purposefully manipulative in order to convince customers that a company is green to prevent the loss of profit.
how to spot greenwashing

Greenwishing and greenwashing are bound to be confused with one another given their similar sounding pronounciation, but in reality – the two terms couldn't’ be more different. 


Greenwishing refers to the desire to make the world more sustainable, often inspiring both individuals and collective action to promote environmental conservation.

Greenwishing entails:

  • The effort to develop a more sustainable lifestyle
  • Support environmental efforts
  • Advocate for new climate policies
  • Setting unattainable goals out of desire to become more eco-friendly and reduce environmental impact


Greenwashing is ultimately more deceptive than greenwishing, with companies actively seeking ways to market their product as sustainable even if it isn’t for the sake of maintaining their business.

Greenwashing entails:

  • Exaggerated environmental claims in order to appeal to younger generations and eco-conscious customers
  • False green labeling
  • Failure to demonstrate concrete efforts to ensure sustainable supply chains or ethical sourcing 

👉 Ultimately, greenwashing is a more manipulative than greenwishing – seeing as the latter is usually rooted in a genuine desire to become more sustainable, whereas greenwashing is predominantly concerned with sales. 


What are some examples of greenwishing?

There are several examples of greenwishing, such as at COP26 when car manufacturers signed an agreement to cease the construction of diesel and petrol engines by 2040 – with a plan to phase out the use of these engines starting in 2035. However, any effort to work towards greater sustainability – even if out of reach – can be deemed as an example of greenwishing. 

💡 Did you know that California will ban the purchase of gasoline powered vehicles from 2035 onwards?

This is a perfect example of greenwishing, because while the goal is great – it is unlikely that the automobile industry will be able to phase out the use of diesel and petroleum based engines that quickly.

Other examples of greenwishing include:

  • Switching to Eco-friendly Materials & Transportation – Companies or individuals making the switch to reusable water bottles, paper bags, or reusable utensils or opting to take the metro instead of driving are signs of greenwishing. 
  • Sudden Implementation of Green Business Practices – All of the sudden opting for LED lights, energy efficient technology or office measures, and other efforts to reduce energy consumption demonstrate greenwishing. 
  • Keeping Up-to-Date with Latest Eco-News – Any business taking a sudden interest in the latest news regarding sustainability is illustrating their desire to go green, as they may look to others for inspiration on how to make their own lives or businesses more sustainable.
  • Community Events – Greenwishing likes company, meaning – it’s always more fun to hope for something together with other people than to do so alone. This means that greenwishing usually spikes an increase in commerce at local farmer’s markets, rallies for climate policies, or even bigger environmental projects such as reforestation or habitat conservation.  

👉 All this being said, the predominant issue with greenwishing is that while it may inspire individuals and the collective alike to go green – it often won’t amount to massive emissions reductions as the actions associated with greenwishing don’t get to the root of the cause.

leaf in forest

How can your company make sure it doesn’t fall subject to greenwishing?

The heart behind greenwishing is real, meaning – if your company has fallen subject to greenwishing, it usually means your business genuinely cares about the environment and wants to make an effort to go green. 

However, it’s important to remember that some of the symptoms of greenwishing may not always be conducive to an effective strategy to truly reduce emissions or implement greater sustainability.

Here are a few ways to make sure your company turns greenwishing into tangible and measurable actions: 

  • Set Logical & Numerical Goals – Many companies who fall subject to greenwishing often set goals out of reach or too far in the future, leaving them difficult to track progress. Instead, start with small-term goals and shorter long-term goals to demonstrate your commitment to environmental reform.
  • Pick Environmental Goals Relevant to Your Business – Companies who green wish are bound to find themselves jumping around the board in terms of environmental goals, meaning – they’ll pick efforts that don’t best pertain to their business. In order to avoid this, it’s best to pick goals that make sense for your business – like making an effort to reduce plastic consumption at your company by 25% over the next 4 months. 
  • Choose Relative Carbon Offsetting Projects – Similar to when choosing relevant environmental goals, it’s important for your business to choose carbon offsetting projects which are relative to your company’s own mission. Think of this as like going to the grocery store – it isn’t wise to pick up any groceries you see just because they’re on sale or look good, right? The answer is no: it’s best to do some smart shopping and seek out the carbon offsetting project that both parties will mutually benefit from.  
  • Develop a Strategy with a Carbon Accounting Company – At the end of the day, it can prove really difficult for companies to embark on their climate journey’s alone – but that’s why third-party assistance like Greenly is here. We can help your company to develop an effective carbon reduction strategy and turn your greenwishing into real, definable actions.

Overall, greenwishing can end up being a mere half-hearted step towards reducing environmental impact – but it’s a good start in the right direction to inspire further action against climate change.

What About Greenly?

If reading this article about greenwishing has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

It can be challenging to determine the best solutions to prevent greenwishing in your business, but don’t worry – Greenly is here to help. Click here to schedule a demo to see how Greenly can help you find ways to effectively implement and utilize green finance. 

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.
Click here to learn more about Greenly and how we can help you reduce your carbon footprint.

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