The ins and outs of greenwashing
Greenwashing might sound environment friendly, but in reality, it’s a business strategy to sell ‘eco-friendly’ products. It is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are environmentally sound. Greenwashing has been practiced by companies for years now but was never highlighted.
How does Greenwashing affect us?
The primary danger in greenwashing is that it can mislead people into acting unsustainably. If a company says they’re eco-friendly, you may want to buy their products. If these environmental claims turn out to be false, then you’ve accidentally contributed to harming the environment by supporting the company.
Corporate greenwashing can also hurt businesses. Not all of it is intentional, but it is all damaging to a company’s image. In nearly all cases, corporate greenwashing can lead to a drop in sales.
Types of greenwashing techniques:
Misleading elements: Watch out for green symbols that have no real meaning. Brands will put just about anything on their product labels to show that their product is environmentally friendly and they are following sustainable practices if they think it will increase sales.
Vague claims: Corporations can put up an act of being environmentally friendly and sustainable but have a very non-environmental friendly trade-off. When clothing companies use “natural” or “recycled” materials while the clothing is developed through exploitative conditions.
Fluffy language: You have to be careful with the way you interpret marketing language. The term ‘all-natural’, is one of the biggest claims that has pretty much no significance. The definition is vague and the term has been used so much it has lost its meaning.
Bait: This type of greenwashing is straight-up fraud. It’s misleading and full of lies. This is when advertisements or labels say completely untrue information. When products are labeled organic 100% recycled, certified, recyclable, but are not. They use these words and phrases to click-bait you into buying it.
Examples of Greenwashing:
If a hotel chain claims to be green because it allows guests to reuse sheets and towels but does not make an effort to conserve water through better appliances or widespread corporate practices, it could be considered greenwashing. The same applies to grocery stores that allow shoppers to reuse bags but at the same time still engage in practices that can harm the environment.
Many companies reinvent their brand more than once in their lifetime, and most have attempted to rebrand themselves as environmentally friendly. Giving the brand a new name, logo or motto incites consumers to buy the product even if it may be misleading to the actual dangerous elements it has.
Sometimes greenwashing is as subtle as a product name; others go so far as to falsify carbon emission records. It’s better to be aware than to be fooled.
These days with customers becoming more environmentally aware brands tend to take advantage of the need for sustainable products. They use this to sell products and are often not completely honest in the ingredients they use. This is known as greenwashing. How are we as consumers likely to spot greenwashing with various global corporations riding the green-sustainable wave?
These are some of the ways to avoid Greenwashing:
It refers to an ecological claim with no scientific proof or facts, supporting the information readily available, or no support from validated third parties. It is thus our duty, as a consumer, to verify the statements that corporations produce with data and evidence.
It takes place when businesses mark a commodity as sustainable on a limited number of qualities (like sanitary napkins made up of 100% recyclable material), on the other hand pushing other features aside (like waste management and carbon emissions).
When an enterprise claims that their goods are manufactured from recycled materials, as consumers, the questions we can ask are: what technologies do they use and which materials are they made from?
These are just strategies to pull the buyers towards their products. Beware of cryptic brand jargon and words that companies use like:
Friendly for the environment
Saves the planet
The visual trap:
Along with the use of deceptive and non-specific greenwashing words, brands focus on powerful advertising strategies. Look at the pictures they use on their website and in advertising, when investigating a brand and ask yourself the following questions:
‘Does the brand use general natural footage or stock images to show its sustainability or does it use photos of its own production and production practices?’
Avoid CFC-free or phosphate-free goods because these agents have been banned for decades.
Being a conscious consumer, don’t fall into the pit of greenwashing.