Green-Collar Crime: Definition, Examples, & Punishment

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  • 0:01 What Is Green-Collar Crime?
  • 0:35 Examples of Green-Collar Crime
  • 2:52 Punishments for…
  • 4:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson defines the concept of green-collar crime. You'll learn numerous examples of what this term may mean and various examples of punishments that may be brought forth against a perpetrator of such a crime.

What Is Green-Collar Crime?

We've all heard of the terms white-collar crime and blue-collar crime. White-collar crime could refer to something like embezzlement, while blue-collar crime may include burglary. But there's another collar crime: it's green-collar crime, which is a crime committed against the environment (nature). This term can refer to actual crime, in the sense that the act is illegal by the country's law, or a moral crime that may not be illegal. In this lesson, you'll learn some examples of green-collar crime and its possible punishments in the U.S.

Examples of Green-Collar Crime

Some examples of green-collar crime are apparent to all of us and are in the news more often than others. Take, for instance, deforestation and illegal logging, both of which harm trees and the surrounding environment, including the wildlife. For example, the illegal logging and deforestation in Central Africa are threatening the survival of gorillas. These acts also threaten entire ecosystems and the people that depend on these ecosystems for their survival.


Another good example of green-collar crime is the illegal export of wildlife. You'll be shocked at how it happens. People sometimes put birds, snakes, or other small animals up and down their bodies (under their clothing), while trying to sneak these animals into the country. Not only does the illegal export of wildlife hurt local wildlife populations from where they are hunted, but it also poses a danger to the new ecosystem into which they are brought. If the animals are released, they may threaten the survival of local native species. But illegal export of wildlife is more than just the export of live animals; it's also parts of animals, like shark fins, rhinoceros horns, and elephant tusks. The list goes on and on. The poaching of animals has led to the extinction of some animals and near extinction of others, such as some types of rhinoceros.

Green-collar crime also includes pollution. Industries dump toxic industrial waste into local river systems, killing off fish and other animals as well as polluting our drinking water. Oil pipelines burst and leak, spewing toxic oil into rivers, lakes, seas, and lands that tarnish and destroy our nature and even our livelihoods.

The 2010 Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill caused by BP

The three things we just covered are the obvious examples of green-collar crime, but you must understand that there are less obvious ones and ones that are nuances of the aforementioned. For instance, you wouldn't think of farming as a green-collar crime, but the runoff of pesticides, bacteria, and substances found in an animal's manure can actually harm the environment.

You may not think of chicken farming as green-collar crime, but pumping chickens full of additives to make them grow painfully large, crowding them into cages where they can't move and live a normal life, transporting them for long distances without being fed or watered before stunning them with electrified water prior to slitting their throats is a green-collar crime in the books of many.

Punishments for Green-Collar Crime

The penalties for green-collar crime vary from none to hundreds of millions of dollar and really depend on the crime itself, if it is truly illegal, if it is caught, and how well the laws against it can be enforced. There are plenty of illegal wildlife exporters who don't get caught or who bribe their way out of punishment. Some green-collar crimes are not illegal, as many of the scenarios we went over with the chickens. Thus, they won't be punished, period.

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