In recent years, humans have grown more aware of their negative impact on the environment. While many companies have embraced the challenge of being greener, others began to greenwash their products. Today there are eco-friendly products in every industry imaginable. You can now buy eco-friendly toiletries, cleaning supplies, clothes, lifestyle products, cookware, cars, jewelry and even period products. To get ahead of the curve, CEOs all over the world are marketing products that are green. The fact that consumer demand for green products is this high is great. However, the fact is that some of them are far from it. This is called greenwashing, and it is a bigger problem than you think.
“Greenwashing, also called “green sheen”, is a form of marketing spin in which green PR and green marketing are deceptively used to persuade the public that an organization’s products, aims and policies are environmentally friendly and therefore ‘better’; appeal to nature.”Wikipedia
Examples of Greenwashing
This is a tough topic to discuss, because there are many companies that I like that are guilty of greenwashing. H&M is a great example of a company that has come under a lot of scruity for this. They are a major and fast growing company that sells clothes for incredibly low prices. This is always a red flag, because most if not all things that are mass-produced at a low price are not eco-friendly.
According to the Daily Orange:
“In 2019, H&M launched its own line of “green” clothing titled “Conscious.” The company claims to use “organic” cotton and recycled polyester. However, at quick glance, the line is nothing but a shelled marketing tactic used to make themselves appear more environmentally friendly. When looking at H&M’s “Conscious” line, its mission states: “Shop our selection of sustainable fashion pieces that make you both look and feel good.”
Despite this, there is not a single legal definition for marketing-friendly words such as “sustainable,” “green,” or “environmentally-friendly.”
A men’s “green” long sleeve shirt from H&M is made of “100% organic cotton.” How can something that, on average, takes about 20,000 liters of water to produce be sustainable? The simple answer is because companies are legally able to get away with blatant misrepresentation.
The Federal Trade Commission provides loose guidelines for greenwashing.”Daily Orange
Greenwashing on Facebook Ads
I spend much more time than I’d like to admit scrolling through Facebook. In the 13 years that I’ve had my account, Facebook has learned that I love to shop online and I love eco-friendly products. The amount of ads I get for these types of products is amazing. Many of them truly are eco-friendly, like WonderSip straws. Others, like one I saw yesterday of plant-based milk that comes in a non-recyclable carton, are not.
If you are not experienced with eco-friendly products and don’t know how certain materials are made or sourced, it can be tough to differenciate between a genuine company and one that greenwashes. It truly is amazing that the demand for eco-friendly products has gotten so high that large companies need to fake it to sell it. However, it is detrimental to the planet if people fall for these false claims.
How Do I Know if It’s Greenwashed?
If you want to know if something is greenwashed or not, you can delve deep into the particular product and company that created it. This can be time consuming and if a company is open to greenwashing, it’s not beyond lying about their prouducts. Luckily, there are various resources that you can use to verify products and find out if they are truly green.
Carbonly – Google Chrome Extension
Carbonly is a great extention for Google Chrome. It basically just tracks your carbon footprint. The Carbonly team also promises to plant a tree for every installation. The extention can:
- Visualise the Emissions of Everyday Products 💨
- Track The Carbon Footprint of Any Purchase 🎁
- See Your Complete Footprint Anytime, Everytime 📈
- Offset Your Entire Footprint 🌿
- Compete With Friends! 🍻
Earth Hero: Exo-Friendly Marketplace
Earth Hero is an eco-friendly online marketplace. They have done the work so you don’t have to. On Earth Hero, you can shop products that are sourced, manufactured, and shipped in a way that protects our planet’s future. Each brand we’ve partnered with has been chosen because they’re taking the right steps and helping to create a more sustainable future.
There is a great selection of items starting with zero-waste products, clothing, accessories, baby, kids, dogs, travel, outdoor, home, audio, tech, beaty and care. The prices are steeper than what you would see on Amazon or Walmart, and that is the whole point. Quality, eco-friendly products that last do cost more than mass-produced items. Check them out next time you are shoping for something new. They just might have the thing you need at a much lower cost to the environment.
Good on You – Eco Ratings
Good On You wants to make it as easy as possible to buy products that are eco-friendly. They do the research for you so all you need to do is search the company or product to see information about them. If you sign up for their newsletter you can get regular updates to learn more about ethical brands. There is also an app that can make it easy to make green decisions on the go. The app will make sure to point out greenwashing and get to the bottom of whether a company is truly eco-friendly or not.
Here is what happens when you look up H&M. As you can see, Good on You is not too harsh but it tries to be as honest as possible even if it may upset people.
Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound. It is a play on the term “whitewashing,” which means using misleading information to gloss over bad behavior.
Many companies are doing the best to be greener, but others use people’s passion for the environment to simply make a profit. Not only is this not ethical towards the customer but can cause a lot of harm – people may use their hard-earned money to buy a greenwashed product instead of a truly eco-friendly one. Luckily, we have the resources to do better and learn more about products before we click ‘buy.’
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