My spell check is telling me that “greenwashing” is not a word. So naturally I went online and double-checked that, it is, in fact referred to as “greenwashing”, one word. What I just did is a fancy thing millennials like to call “fact checking”. This will be your best asset in your fight to determine which brands to trust and which brands to drop.
Greenwashing or “green sheen” refers to the act of portraying an organization’s product or services as environmentally friendly only for the sake of marketing. There are two main types of greenwashing:
Environmental Imagery: elaborate designs, excessive printing, and overtly “green” labeling is highly unlikely if the company is actually environmentally responsible.
Misleading Labels: a label simply reading “Certified” or “100% Organic” or “Eco-Friendly” without any supporting information is most likely not a green company. These classifications don’t mean anything if they’re not supported. Some labels may look like a third-party endorsement but in reality… the third party doesn’t even exist. Look for supporting information, google the company, or simply choose products you know.
Hidden Trade-Offs: a good example of this is in the fashion industry. Some companies use “natural” or “recycled” materials which is great, but the trade off is how they obtained those materials. A company looking to be truly transparent will identify as socially and ethically responsible.
Irrelevant Claims: you may have seen labels that boast “free from ‘insert already banned chemical here’!!” A socially and environmentally responsible company will boast what they do do… not what they don’t. Another example of this is when a company highlights a very minute green initiative without acknowledging all of the other harmful behavior or consequences associated with it.
Lesser of Two Evils: example: organic cigarettes. The company’s claim is true but a greater risk or environmental impact prevails.
2. Kauai Coffee Pods- single serve compostable k-cup alternatives!
3. SeaWorld- killer whale shows
These are just a few of the many many companies that exercise greenwashing in their marketing. Heck, it’s much easier to watch a sacred ocean beast jump for mackerel when we’re told that this is somehow “helping” the species. Organizations like the National Advertising Division and the Federal Trade Commission are doing their part to crack down on companies that are cashing in on the environmental wave. But I beg you, that is not enough. It’s up to consumers to educate themselves and vote with their dollar. Keep those warning signs in mind and choose to be an informed consumer!!