As sustainability becomes increasingly mainstream, greenwashing is almost impossible to avoid. So, I thought I would share some information with you to help your understanding (and mine too)!
Greenwashing is the term used to describe a company who advertises, exaggerate and/or falsely claims to be sustainable and eco-friendly in some way. There are many ways companies use greenwashing, helping to increase brand reputation, and aid sales for example:
Green packaging is probably the most used method of greenwashing. Creating packaging using green colours to make it appear like it is eco-friendly, makes people think it’s eco friendly as green is the colour of recycling etc. The company doesn’t even have to actually claim to be doing anything, it’s just a trick to get a sale from a certain prospective market.
‘Sustainable’ claims with no back up: Brands will often advertise products as eco-friendly, however if you look closer, there is little to no environmentally friendly aspects to the product. Look out for vague claims, and buzz words, such as: eco-friendly, all natural, biodegradable, compostable etc. Check on the brand and product by doing your own research first, before purchasing.
Big words but small numbers: A problem particularly relevant to the fashion industry is claiming products are made with sustainable, recycled or reused fabrics. Often it is only a percentage of the item that this applies to, however. Further more, items made with ‘organic’ or natural materials are often part of fast production cycles that can be extremely harmful to the environment (such as cotton or viscose) unless from certified sources.
Scarily, it is harder to find a fashion company that isn’t greenwashing. Some companies are making steps with sustainable lines, but as expected, when it looks too good to be true, it is! Another large area that causes a lot of scandal for the move to more sustainable transport is transport. Emissions tests have been tampered with and large umbrella companies have been advertising ‘green technology’ whilst producing fuel vehicles that cause pollution. Again, the food and drink industry is pretty terrible for greenwashing, since it uses mostly single use packaging. But we still have to eat, so they get away with it better than most. Claims of ‘20%’ less packaging is a form of greenwashing because although it is positive, it encourages consumerism without really addressing the issue.
The thought to take home and think more on is ‘where there is a profit to be made, the best we can do is to be aware, do the research and make a decision if its worth purchasing’.
Much love Rebecca