What is greenwashing?
When you are starting to learn and enter the environmental world, especially if you are learning how to be an environmental activist, you may start to hear advanced language and terms that you might have not heard of before. At least, that was certainly the case with me. When I started to expand my knowledge from my first love dolphins, to all animals and the earth itself, I found myself finding research that was way above my vocabulary and one thing I heard a lot was a problem with the term “greenwashing”. At first I looked at this and thought ‘Yeah, I get this. Its when people use unethical cleaning brands’. But as I looked into the term more, I realized greenwashing is much more than that. I want to make sure this information is credible and that you hear these things from actual experts and not someone who is not qualified to act like she knows the ins and out of this.
1. What is it?
Merriam Webster provided this definition: “expressions of environmentalist concerns especially as a cover for products, policies, or activities”
I also like Medium.com’s way of describing it: “Whilst some greenwashing is unintentional and results from a lack of knowledge about what sustainability truly is, it is often internationally carried out through a wide range of marketing and PR efforts. But the common denominator among all greenwashing is that it is not only misleading, but it’s also really not helping to further sustainable design or circular economy initiatives. Thus, environmental problems stay the same or more likely, get even worse, as greenwashing often sucks up airtime and misdirects well-intentioned consumers down the wrong path.”
2. How can I identify it?
You may be thinking, alright alright enough with the long definition I think I know it by now. I did too, but as I got to thinking about it, I wondered if I could be fooled by companies trying to act like they are sustainable too. So, as I got into looking for ways I can identify greenwashing, I found 3 main ways of doing just that.
- Genuine planet-friendly products generally use less overt imagery and stick to plainer packaging. Don’t fall for cute animals running in fields or extreme leafy designs.
- Watch out for false or misleading labels. Some companies will put a fake logo with a leaf saying “Certified” when upon research there is no such company. Genuine eco friendly products would provide more detailed information, factoring other areas like energy, greenhouse gas emissions, worker conditions, water and air quality.
- Watch for claims that are irrelevant. Some labels will claim they are “free” of a certain chemical or substance, when that substance is actually already banned by law and therefore irrelevant to advertise as part of being ‘green’.
3. How can I help stop it?
In order to help. stop it, you have to be able to spot it! That’s why I included how to identify it in this post because the best way to help stop greenwashing is to call out the companies on social media. Hopefully your tweet, instagram post, or video goes viral and other people start to call them out too. GO GO GO!!!
You may have heard of the term “Greenwashing”. But what does this really mean? In this blog post, find out what it is, how to identify it, and how to stop it.