Greenwashing: What Can You Do About It?
In my last blog post about Eco-Values, I addressed the conflicting situation when deciding between two items because of not knowing which one is “greener.”
But how do you know those two items aren’t just branded as being “green?”
With the rise of “eco-friendly trend” (it’s definitely a movement that is here to stay), many businesses that are not traditionally sustainable are suddenly pushing towards it. Either a new line of “green” products is released or they are advertising that they are green AKA (also known as) greenwashing.
What is Greenwashing?
Greenwashing is defined as when a company or organization spends more time and money on marketing themselves as environmentally friendly than on minimizing their environmental impact. It is a deceitful advertising gimmick intended to mislead consumers who prefer to buy goods and services from environmentally conscious brands.
To reference a few case studies conducted on this issue, you should refer to this interesting read.
How Do You Combat Greenwashing as a Consumer?
1. Look for Third-Party Certifications
Generally, there isn’t an “eco-friendly” certification that exist across the board. For example, anything that looks like a “certification” for eco-friendliness… is probably a lie. It doesn’t exist. It’s made up. It’s just branding.
That being said, there are some like Certified B Corporations which hold validity. And a few certifications that are industry specific include:
2. Research/look for transparency from website
Many growing businesses and large corporations who value environmental sustainability generally outline their ingredients, processes and initiatives on their website. However, be mindful of the language.
You want to look out for words like:
- “Made sustainably”
- “All natural ingredients”
- “Made locally”
These “industry” words are used a lot, but don’t have a whole lot of specificity. These phrases can mean and be interpreted to be almost anything.
I mean, what does “made sustainably” even mean? And what is a “natural” ingredient? And where the heck is local? Local to what city?
So unless a business outlines exactly what the production process is or lists out all of their ingredients or specifies a city of country, then I’d be weary.
3. Ask LOTS of questions if not listed or ask for more details
Sometimes a business has all the right intentions BUT just isn’t an expert in writing copy or using the right sustainability terms. It’s not their fault because things can be confusing, so as a consumer it’s important to follow-up with questions via email or phone, if not clear from their marketing materials.
What can you do as a business owner?
And if you’re an entrepreneur who has already or plans to implement green initiatives and practices in your business then you’ll want to make a note of the following:
- Be careful about using greenwashing terms
- Being VERY specific in your messaging
- Consult an expert
For example, if you use natural ingredients, actually list the ingredients so that consumers are able to Google them. They can make conscious and educated decisions for themselves.
If something is made locally, define local. Is that in a specific city? Country? And is it all parts of the product? Or only part of it? You can never be too specific nor transparent about the supply chain.
As a consumer, you can navigate through greenwashing by:
- Looking for third-party certifications (where applicable)
- Research/look for transparency from a company’s website
- Ask LOTS of questions if not listed
As a business owner:
- Be 100% transparent.
- Be as detailed as possible when describing your green initiatives.
Do you want help with this? Book a 30-minute Clarity Call and let’s chat through your copy and wording.
Whether you’re a consumer or business owner, when it comes to greenwashing, it’s all in the details.