What is greenwashing and how to identify greenwashing?

What is greenwashing and how to identify greenwashing?

The practice of “greenwashing” refers to when a business presents itself as environmentally sensitive for marketing purposes but in reality, isn’t doing any significant sustainability measures. Due to greenwashing, most customers do not accept claims made by businesses on their sustainability strategy. So let us discuss the tips to identify greenwashing.

What is greenwashing

Greenwashing is a practice used by certain companies to trick or mislead their clients into thinking that their brand is more environmentally friendly than it is. These companies will spend more money on advertising their eco-friendliness than on actually implementing eco-friendly business processes and producing eco-friendly products.

In order to satisfy the growing demand from customers for environmentally friendly products and services, many businesses in various industries, such as food, fashion, or travel, utilize distinctive tactics to attract customers based on the sort of items they sell. Even when companies have excellent intentions, they might engage in greenwashing.

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Methods to identify greenwashing

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In the present consumer industry, it is important to know about green washing and how to identify greenwashing to develop a greener and eco-friendly planet.

1.Use of vague terms and commonly used slogans

There some of the commonly used words in the consumer market that raises a sense of sustainability consciousness on a consumer. This false advertising seems to make the product eco-friendly and sustainable. The terms ‘green’, ‘natural’, ‘sustainable’, and ‘eco-friendly’ are frequently used in marketing for creating a sense of environmental protection.

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Sustainability entails only taking what is necessary and preserving the non-renewable sources of energy. Being sustainable is not the same as using less plastic in the name of sustainability. Customers should seek for a secondary, reliable source of information to support the claims made by the manufacturers.

2.Use of images related to nature

Similar to the use of vague terms to represent a eco-friendly business, there are companies who use images related to nature that creates an aesthetic look as well as brings out an planet friendly image. Images of trees, clean ground, cows, blue sky, farms, etc. are all appealing ways to represent an eco-friendly company. Using earth tones like blues, greens, and browns is another typical deception.

Image credits : Good Housekeeping

3.Hides relevant details

There are companies that hides relevant details about their products and that makes it difficult to identify greenwashing. It may advertise they have organic or natural raw materials but hides the synthetic and the materials that cause harm to the environment. If a product has to be eco-friendly, it has to made with processes that have zero emissions throughout its life cycle and doesn’t involve the use of harmful materials.

Even if the rest of their clothing range is environmentally unfriendly, fashion brands may market clothing made of “sustainable” materials. For instance, a company may advertise that it is environmentally friendly, but fail to account for supply-chain emissions from an overseas facility that uses coal to manufacture a component of the product.

4.Check whether the packaging is recyclable

The amount of wastes generated from packing materials is a major concern. Companies advertise the use of recyclable packaging materials or related products, to create a sense of eco-friendliness. Some plastic products with the “recyclable” label can be non-recyclable materials.

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In 2018, McDonald’s made the announcement that it would stop selling single-use plastic straws in its restaurants and start stocking paper straws in their place. The straws weren’t genuinely recyclable, though, and the next year it was charged with greenwashing.

5.Keep an eye for carbon offsetting

By finding different means to remove an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the environment, a government, company, or individual might try to balance their own emissions. It is known as carbon offsetting. Offsetting is the most popular form of green washing.

Image credits : UNEP

It is plagued with fraud and enables businesses to assert that they are reaching emissions targets while continuously releasing emissions into the atmosphere. The entire purpose of offsets is to permit these businesses to continue polluting without consequence and to permit governments to claim that they are meeting targets.

6.Look for certifications to identify greenwashing

The purpose of certification programs is to give independent confirmation of the authenticity of a company’s green claims. To identify greenwashing, consumer has to look for evidence. But look out for fake labels. There are fake certifications available that aim to mislead customers. The certification organizations offer consumers digital transparency into a company’s sustainability actions.

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If you’re interested in learning more about a brand’s environmental effect and the programs they support, check out the label, the product description, or their website. Some of the top certifications for sustainability in the clothing and consumer products sectors are Fair Trade, Made Safe, EPA Safer Choice, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) etc.

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