What is Greenwashing?
Honest to be told, I had never heard of greenwashing before zero waste. I was a few months into transitioning to zero waste when I came across a video about greenwashing. So, if you've heard about greenwashing and aren't exactly sure what it is, or maybe this is the first time you've even heard the word, I am going to share with you what I've researched.
Greenwashing as defined in the dictionary as "the disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image."
So, what exactly does that mean?
Companies can advertise on their product or through other avenues of marketing that their company and/or product is 'eco-friendly', 'green', 'earth-friendly', etc. There will be trees, leaves, streams and lakes included in the advertisement to make the product "appear" eco-conscious and not harmful to nature. They want the consumer to choose the product because they believe the product to be eco-friendly. In reality, the company is solely advertising as eco-friendly for the purpose of increasing sales. The company does not actually have manufacturing and distributing systems implemented to create a more 'green' product.
There is currently no blanket regulation on the standards that a company must meet in order to promote their product as eco-friendly. So, while these companies are advertising their product as eco-friendly, they are not supporting any sort of eco-conscious manufacturing and they are not transferring any income towards researching more eco-friendly production strategies.
As consumers, we have been conditioned to think that if a bottle is green or white and has something in nature on it with an earth-y name, then that product must me more eco-friendly. However, this is not always the case. While there may be some companies that are what they advertise, many companies have no 'green' practices that claim to have a 'green' product. Before buying a product, check to see if the product is actually safer than the non-green alternative. Don't accept the product at face value for what it appears. Research companies to see what they are actively doing to implement greener practices or how they are aiding in environmental progress.
In this post, I mainly focus on products that companies try to sell eco-conscious consumers, but greenwashing goes back even further and spans farther than just simple products. There are large companies that use greenwashing as a way to promote their company as being environmentally responsible in times of environmental turmoil so as to make themselves appear better to the public eye. Some of the largest oil, gas and electric companies have done this many times in the past and most likely still will in the future pretending to be environmentally conscious while doing nothing to implement greener practices. Companies will sometimes promote themselves as implementing more 'green' values by placing their add on a green billboard and adding a leaf making it appear they are taking steps forward to actually become more conscious producers.
Here is a great video by Manuela of GirlGoneGreen about greenwashing.
Here is a post by Kathryn of Going Zero Waste on how to avoid greenwashing.
Share below some companies and/or products that are known for greenwashing. Comment any tips that you have on how you avoid greenwashing.