Greenwashing is a problem that companies are increasingly facing as consumers become more aware of environmental issues. It occurs when companies make false or misleading claims about their products or services in order to appear more environmentally friendly. As sustainable initiatives become more important to businesses, it’s important to be aware of greenwashing and how to combat it. In this article, we’ll explore some tips for combating greenwashing and protecting your company’s reputation.
What is greenwashing and why is it a problem?
Greenwashing can be seen as truth-stretching or spinning. Companies looking to be seen as ‘green’ will often use questionable tactics to appear more eco-friendly than they really are. This might include green advertising campaigns that may not provide enough transparency about the company’s environmental efforts, or worse, deliberately misleading customers about their environmental records. The problem with greenwashing is that it misleads and deceives customers, creating a false sense of companies’ commitment to sustainability without actually taking any real action — which we need to solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.
How to avoid greenwashing in product labels and advertising
Navigating the jungle of product labels and advertising is no easy feat, especially when it comes to avoiding greenwashing. The truth of the matter? Truth, connection and honesty are key when it comes to navigating the world of “eco-friendly,” “natural,” and all other green superlatives popping up on products today. It may be helpful to develop relationships with noteworthy environmental organizations like World Wildlife Fund as these organizations often rate products and companies on truthfulness in their claims.
Ways to combat greenwashing as a consumer
For consumers it can be tempting to take greenwashing at face value. Unfortunately, there are companies out there trying to pass off their products as eco-friendly without actually providing the proof. So how can you combat greenwashing? By doing a bit of digging when shopping with conscientiousness. Researching the manufacturer’s sustainability claims is important, for example looking for transparent information about their production and supply chain processes, an environmentally focused mission statement, or third-party certifications and recognitions from trusted organizations. At first glance all that research might seem like a lot of effort; but many consumers are taking on the challenge.
So, the next time you see an eco-friendly water bottle or a natural laundry detergent advertised as “free of harmful chemicals,” remember to do your research before hitting “add to cart.” If you are a company working to make your efforts known, remember to be as transparent and honest as possible. When companies are deliberately misleading consumers about their environmental impact, it undercuts the progress we could be making toward sustainability. And who knows, maybe one day “greenwashing” will be nothing more than a historical term used to describe dishonest business practices of the past.