What is greenhushing?

By Fiona Donnellan

Greenhushing refers to the practice of downplaying or concealing one's environmentally friendly behaviours or initiatives. When a brand engages in greenhushing, it involves downplaying or minimising its environmentally friendly practices or initiatives. Here's how this concept applies specifically to brands:

  1. Selective communication and downplaying sustainability efforts: Instead of actively promoting its sustainable practices, a brand practising greenhushing might avoid discussing them altogether or mention them only in passing, without giving them significant attention or emphasis.
  2. Fear of greenwashing accusations: Brands may engage in greenhushing due to a fear of being accused of greenwashing – the practice of making misleading or exaggerated claims about environmental friendliness. They may believe that openly promoting their sustainability initiatives could invite scrutiny or scepticism from consumers or advocacy groups.
  3. Maintaining market positioning: Some brands may worry that emphasising their eco-friendly efforts could potentially alienate segments of their target market who may not prioritise environmental concerns. They might opt to greenhush to maintain their current market positioning and appeal to a broader audience.
  4. Balancing environmental responsibility with business goals: Greenhushing reflects the challenge brands face in balancing their environmental responsibility with their business objectives and market dynamics. They may struggle to find the right balance between promoting sustainability and addressing other marketing and PR priorities.

Overall, greenhushing in the context of branding, marketing, and public relations highlights the delicate balance that brands must strike between promoting their sustainability efforts and managing various external perceptions and pressures.