GREENWASHING: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Greenwashing

All around the world, lots of people are now going green, living ecofriendly and being eco-conscious. With this happening, brands and companies that are out to degrade and pollute the environment – and those who profit from environmental degradation – have asked themselves what can we do to lead these eco-conscious people astray? How can we take them out of the light? Well, the answer they came up with is Greenwashing. Now you ask, what is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is what these non-environmentally conscious brands and companies do in order to trick people into buying their products and services. It’s simply false advertising. Greenwashing has been around for long and with the increasing number of eco-conscious individuals and consumers’ determination to pay a higher price for eco-friendly goods and services, it’s now common more than ever. Let’s look at a few examples:

A very common example of Greenwashing is oil companies – the so called “oil giants”- talking about green gas, their investment in cleaner energy, joining the climate change and net-zero by 2050 – to name a few – with misleading ads and campaigns. One would think that with the IPCC report on climate change there would be a change.

Don’t get me started on the fast fashion brands where they go about releasing collection after collection and throwing in the usual terms – which you would read later on – when of course you, nothing about the collection or brand says environmentally friendly. It’s all Greenwashing.

And there’s the switch by Coca-Cola, changing it’s Sprite bottle from the usual green plastic bottle to a transparent one, with the claim of “boost recycling.” This switch is a part of the company’s “World without waste” vision. It this isn’t greenwashing at its peak, then I don’t know.

Coca-cola's transparent sprite bottle showing greenwashing
Photo from Coca-Cola

So, the next big question…“How can I spot/not fall into the Greenwashing pit?”

As previously pointed out, not because a brand sprinkles the environmentally tagged terms around their product and service means they’re actually in for environmental protection. You need to watch out and do your own research.

Colour:

It’s no secret that green is the colour used when it comes to things of the environment. “The brands” are aware of this and as such they go around painting everything about them green to attract people. One might see this and go “oh green. Nice. They’re into the environment.” You need to watch out because not all that screams green actually is green. It might just be black in disguise – no shade to black colour. I actually love black.

False promises:

There’s a lot of this going around now. False promises can be in the form of a brand promising to plant trees or donating to a certain environmental cause for every product purchased. Let’s take tree planting for exampls. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of trees. You can call me a tree planting advocate. There’s the need to plant now more than ever and “the brands” are aware.

What they do here is trick people by telling them or showing through ads and campaigns that they plant trees for every product sold, when they actually don’t. With this, eco-conscious people buy their products – which if you look into, they aren’t eco-friendly – or services because of the “we plant trees for every purchase.”

Labelling:

When it comes to labelling, products are sprinkled with terms like green, eco-friendly, sustainably, with a little bit of recyclable, no plastic, cruelty free, vegan here and there, and a touch of no toxic chemical, organic, biodegradable, natural, compostable – to name a few. It’s very easy for one to fall for such greenwash because every eco-conscious individual looks out for some or most of these stuff. If these claims are actually legit, they will be backed up. If they aren’t, run. It’s a trap.

False labelling on a plastic product as part of greenwashing
Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

False images:

Pictures of the Earth, trees, oceans, leaves, flowers, animals and other environmentally related images are used on products or in ads and campaigns to throw people off. You should watch out for such.

Image of a tree trunk and green environment
Photo by mali maeder from Pexels

False certifications and seals:

Because “the brands” won’t stop at nothing, they go on to slap some certification and seals on their products or services in order to make people believe that they’re certified by a certain environmental agency when they aren’t – or in some cases, such agency doesn’t even exist. They just made it up at the spot. In order to not fall for such, you need to authenticate and verify such certifications and seals.

False certification tag used by brands in greenwashing

Packaging:

Plastic packaging is among one of the things eco-conscious individuals look out for in their products. There’s the big switch and move towards paper packaging and “the brands” use this as a cover in their products. They cover up their plastic packaging with paper and they be like “how will they know?”

Baiting:

How this works is that a certain product is created or a particular collection is released which screams everything environmentally conscious to attract people to such brand. These products may look like the perfect eco-friendly product for you but if you dig deeper or take a look at their other products or the entire brand, there’s a huge difference. It’s like the typical example of what you ordered vs what you got. No similarities whatsoever.

These products are used as baiting tools to trick people into thinking such brand is out to protect the environment when it’s the opposite. In some cases, it may not even be a product, maybe just something on the website like in the case of Coca-Cola where they have a whole section talking about sustainability. I mean, these guys have ties with the fossil fuel industry and have been named top plastic polluters for three years in a row. Think about it.

With all that greenwashing going on, you need to ask questions and do proper research to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into and what products you’re getting.

Have you ever be a victim of greenwashing?


CHECK THIS OUT:

Carbon Offsetting

Climate Change and Food Security

Tips on How to Reduce Your Food Waste


TEW BOOK CLUB MAY PICK

Love Letter to the Earth by Thich Nhat Hanh
Share post

Leave a Reply