Greenwashing is rampant across various industries these days, and although it may seem harmless the reality is that it means genuine customers are being deceived while businesses are cashing in at the expense of the environment.
QUICK RECAP: Greenwashing is a marketing ploy first coined in the 1980s that makes products and brands seem more sustainable than they are.
Greenwashing is so prevalent today because it works. A 2015 Neilson Poll showed that two-thirds of customers were willing to pay more for eco-friendly products and that half of those customers consider a product’s sustainability before purchasing.
Here are five ways to tell if you’re being Greenwashed:
1. Selective Disclosure: Look for companies and products with transparency about their manufacturing processes, ingredients, and policies. Not products that only highlight the positive environmental facts while intentionally avoiding any mention of the negative.
2. Symbolic Actions: We want to see real action and change from business.
Don’t be fooled by companies drawing attention to engaging in minor positive action that does little to change its overall environmental
3. Hidden Trade-Offs: This is when you see a brand advertise that they will be making a change but, the “change” is equally if not more damaging to the environment. A great example of this is Starbucks introducing “straw-
free lids” to reduce waste, but the new lids used more plastic than before.
4. Lack of Proof: Customers want to see the evidence of environmental claims being made and have every right to. Look for companies and products that can back up their claims with certifications, ingredient transparency, or any other relevant evidence.
5. Way Too Vague: Big statements filled with buzzwords sound fantastic
but often don’t mean anything. We want specifics! Labels such as “Non-
Toxic, New & Improved, Made with Biodegradable Ingredients” all fall into this category. Is that label talking about the packaging of the products or the product itself? How is the product “new & improved”? What is the percentage of biodegradable ingredients included in the product?