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Simply Sustainable: What is Greenwashing?


What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is a marketing tactic where companies make false claims about being sustainable and green without actually delivering. They spend more time marketing themselves as green than actually minimizing their footprint.

Brands can easily make green claims so they can mark-up their products and appeal to the eco-friendly consumers. Advertisement regulations do exist but there truly isn't anything policing sustainability claims nor are there universally accepted definitions of claims like "sustainable"

What are Some Signs of Greenwashing?

  • Fluffy language: Companies use terms like "eco-friendly" and "green" without backing it.
  • Suggestive Photos
  • No proof: No obvious evidence supporting eco-claims 
  • Claims that only scientists would recognize 

How to Avoid Greenwashing?

It can be difficult for an average customer to pick up on greenwashing, but it just requires some extra effort in making conscious decisions.

Try to avoid companies that throw around fluffy language like "eco-friendly" and "green" without backing it up or showing how and why they consider themselves "sustainable". 

One example many may be familiar with was the name brand soap company who advertised cleaning baby animals after the major oil spills. They claimed they were saving these animals when in reality their products were posing more potential threats to these ecosystems. 

Look for products that clearly state their ingredients, do not use excessive packaging, use renewable materials and packaging (glass, bamboo, etc.) and are overall just generally transparent about their products and practices. 

It's not that you should totally drop all companies that are not truly sustainable, but that companies should be held accountable for their marketing and actions and be encouraged to be completely transparent about their products and practices. Support companies that put an effort into educating their consumers and are just generally transparent, even if they are not fully "sustainable". 

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