If you’re a sustainability enthusiast, you may have come across the term, ‘greenwashing’ before. It’s the name given to a tactic used by companies to make their products and services sound more environmentally friendly than they truly are.
Many of the world’s biggest and best-known businesses are guilty of using greenwashing to manipulate conscious consumers into trusting their brands. Check out this example of a greenwashing campaign:
So if you’re keen to avoid greenwashing and want to have more confidence that you’re shopping from genuinely sustainable businesses, here are some things to look out for:
Using ‘green’ imagery on packaging, advertisements and branding is an easy way for companies to give the impression of being environmentally friendly without actually having to be. Look out for organic looking colour palettes, nature-related images and packaging that has a natural aesthetic. It might look like the company is using ‘all-natural ingredients’ or sustainable manufacturing processes but you can’t be sure unless you’ve done your research. In reality, truly green businesses tend to stick to minimal, simple packaging.
Don’t believe everything you read
It may surprise you to learn that companies sometimes label their products with false statements. For example, you may see some brands advertising how they are backed by an organisation, i.e. ‘Certified by The Rainforest Alliance’ but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes they’ll even make up fake organisations which sound great on paper but don’t exist! As a conscious consumer, there is an onus on you to do your own research to find out the facts for yourself. Once you know who’s real and who’s faking it, you can buy with confidence.
Keeping it vague
Another sneaky trick that businesses like to use is to make vague statements. For example, they’ll say ‘Made from 100% recycled materials’ but they don’t openly advertise the process behind it. Maybe they do use recycled materials, but how do they make their products? What do they do with their own waste? How do they treat their employees? Also look out for statements such as, ‘100% recyclable’ which give the impression of sustainability but don’t directly relate to the product itself being green. Genuine companies have nothing to hide and will usually publish their sustainability practices on their websites.
What are your favourite green brands? We’d love to know who you trust!