top of page

Greenwashing: Manipulation Of The Masses



As consumers become more conscious of the dangers of climate change and the effect it is having on our planet the decision making process when purchasing products has changed. Many people look to buy products and from companies which are portrayed as "sustainable" and "eco-friendly" in order to do their bit for the fight against climate change. The need for change has to happen now with extreme heat events becoming more frequent and severe, sea levels are rising faster than ever before and average wildlife populations have dropped by 60% in just over 40 years.



What is greenwashing?


Greenwashing is the term used to describe when a company or organisation promotes their products, services or practises as environmentally friendly or sustainable when in reality they are not.


Greenwashing can take many forms such as making vague or misleading claims, exaggerating the environmental benefits of the products or focusing on one aspect of a products sustainability while ignoring others. It is used to encourage purchase of a product as 74% of consumers are more likely to buy a product if it has bio-degradable claims and 4 out of 5 consumers feel misled by sustainability buzzwords. It is harmful as people who have good genuine intentions to be part of the solution to climate change are buying products which are causing further damage.


Examples


An example of this is Innocent, the maker of the healthy, fruit smoothies who in 2022 were called out by Plastic Rebellion for insincere TV adverts. In these adverts they feature cute animals singing songs about recycling and fixing the environment when in actuality they use single-use plastic, which is terrible for the environment and are owned by coca-cola who are the worst plastic polluter in the world. Another example of Greenwashing is H&M and the fast fashion industry, the Changing Markets Foundation carried out a study investigating major high-street fashion brands claims of being sustainable. H&M were found to be the worst offenders with a shocking 96% of their claims to holding up exposing the company for attempting to trick and manipulate customers into believing they were buying in a sustainable manner.


How do you spot greenwashing?


Become familiar with recognised certifications - The USDA organic certification, Green Seal, Non-GMO Project Verified, Fair Trade Certified and Rainforest Alliance Certified are all certifications which indicate genuine sustainable and eco-friendly practise.


Be wary of distractions - Products claiming recycled and environmentally-friendly can distract people from the more problematic issues with the product such as containing pesticides or water bottles with smaller plastic caps.


Do not be fooled by green - Many products are labelled with plants, animals and leaves and even the colour green which are tactics to make the product look more natural or eco-friendly.


What next?


As consumers it is vital that we know the consequences of the products we buy, through vigilance and questioning we can can me better purchasing decisions in aid of the fight against climate change.

Comments


bottom of page