What is greenwashing?

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What is greenwashing? As good as this term may sound, it is actually an unscrupulous practice many companies have adopted during the last years.

The beginnings of Greenwashing

Greenwashing emerged as a result of customer complaints regarding the unethical practices that go into the manufacturing of products. Many companies, most notably in the fashion industry, have picked up on the message but, instead of changing their policies, they have only coined ways of feigning concern for the environment without taking action.

For a while, people remained oblivious and accepted companies’ claims as facts, satisfied that humanity was one step closer to stopping an environmental crisis. During the last years, however, more and more activists have come forward calling out the false claims of many businesses.

How Greenwashing works

Most companies will market their products as ‘eco-friendly’, ‘ethically-made’ or simply ‘green’ in their attempt to appeal to the mindful customer’s concern for the environment. However, these claims are hollow and are almost never backed by facts.  While the manufacturing of their products is a lot of times linked to the mass destruction of the environment, companies think that sticking an image of an exotic beach, green mountain or rudimental farm on their packaging will fix it all and trick their customers. A lot of times this marketing campaign succeeds.

How to spot Greenwashing

To spot a greenwashed marketing campaign, you need to watch out for vague claims such as ‘natural’, ‘green’ or even ‘recycled’. Most greenwashed packages will either have a simple, modern design to resemble real environmentally friendly products or display misleading images of pretty flowers, trees and picturesque views.

Moreover, you will want to check whether companies’ claims of sustainability are backed by a certified third party, such as Cruelty-Free Kitty in the case of products, most notably make-up, marketed as ‘Vegan’ or Green Seal for environmentally-friendly products. If these details are missing, then the product is most probably not sustainable.

How to stop it

Before buying into a company’s claims, check their website to see if they are legitimate. Check where their products are manufactured and how transparent their policies are.  Look for third party certifications and past media scandals the company might have had. A quick google search will provide all this precious information.

Most importantly, you need to support honest companies that are committed to the environmental cause. Many big players might outshine them, but they still exist. It’s not hard to find them. ‘Ethical Consumer’ is one of the trustworthy websites that provides consumers with an insight into how sustainable the companies they buy from really are.

Interested in a sustainable lifestyle? Check out this article!

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