Sustainable consumption has grown exponentially in recent years. So it’s not surprising that consumers are demanding that companies take the lead and make it easier for them to adopt greener practices.
However, there’s growing concern that companies are exploiting this desire for sustainable products by including a symbolic “green” product in their range to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers.
This is called greenwashing.
Read on to learn what greenwashing is and what you can do to avoid falling into the trap.
What is greenwashing?
Greenwashing is when a brand spends more money and time presenting itself as environmentally friendly than it does on genuinely reducing its environmental impact.
Brands with large marketing resources can easily trick their customers into believing that their products are “good for the environment” by making bold promises, using green logos, and providing little facts.
The problem with greenwashing
Greenwashing is problematic for two main reasons. We discuss them below.
Greenwashing is harmful to individuals, businesses, and the environment. It makes it difficult for consumers to make an informed decision about how they spend their money. This impacts the environment despite their best intentions.
It can be difficult to tell if something is “greenwashed” or not, making it difficult to trust truly sustainable products.
Greenwashing also makes it easier for companies to increase revenue while maintaining a positive public image. This can encourage them to continue to mislead the public and harm the environment.
Businesses lose credibility
From a commercial perspective, consumer confidence declines when greenwashing is exposed, and the company must find measures to restore it. Because of this poor image, future environmentally beneficial products and services from a company accused of greenwashing may be overlooked by customers.
How to recognize and avoid greenwashing
Greenwashing has evolved since the 1980s, making it more difficult for the untrained eye to detect. So here are the top three areas to look into before making a purchase.
Greenwashing buzzwords are one of the first things to look out for. These are words like “green,” “sustainable,” “environmentally conscious,” and “environmentally friendly”. Just because a brand’s latest collection is described as green in an advertisement doesn’t guarantee it is.
Greenwashing brands make vague promises and manufacture ‘conscious collections,’ which are ineffective attempts to create a misleading sense of environmental awareness.
As a consumer, you can question how the said collection is “conscious.” Did the brand consider the human and environmental impact? And how can it be environmentally and socially conscious for such an abnormally low price?
Transparency is essential. If a brand is truly sustainable, it will be upfront and honest about both the good and the negative. When a brand refuses to reveal the location of its suppliers or the origins of its materials, consider it a red flag.
Eco-friendly businesses pay special attention to the materials they use because they know their environmental impact. Such brands prefer products that are organic or certified.
However, we must keep in mind that sustainability is a journey, and getting the necessary certificates is expensive. So just because a brand doesn’t have the credentials yet doesn’t mean they aren’t serious about being green.
While the rise in greenwashing may seem overwhelming, we believe that with the appropriate information, you can successfully navigate the world of eco-fashion.
On the bright side, the prevalence of greenwashing shows that brands are starting to prioritize sustainability and this is a sign of progress. While it’s great to hear corporations highlight their socially responsible activities and environmentally friendly products, they must also be mindful of how they advertise them.