An overview of Greenwashing in 2023 with examples of companies you many know and love, what to look out for and how to avoid it.
What is Greenwashing?
In terms of a general definition and overall description of what greenwashing is it can be described as,
a process used "to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is"
Climate change is an issue at the back of most people's minds in 2023 as we see increasing statistics not in favour of our environment. We're seeing the impact of climate change a lot more frequently in recent years with record breaking temperatures, flash floods, droughts etc, therefore companies we associate with every day are hoping to show their efforts to reduce impacts of climate change and promote more eco- friendly options.
Despite s a lot of companies sticking to their word and promoting their environmentally friendly practice within business there are also lots of company's out there who are not so honest. This brings us to greenwashing which is used to improve a companies ethical reputation particularly in times like this when environmental impacts are considered more within the pre-purchase stage.
Who is greenwashing?
Greenwashing is probably a bit more common than you may think, here are some examples of greenwashing scandals from companies who have been caught out.
In 2018 Starbucks came out with a new cup design which claimed to be more eco-friendly as it did not include a straw, straws were seen throughout the media at the time representing the environmental struggles which were taking place, images circulated the internet of straws hurting turtles and other sea life. this meant companies like Starbucks stopped using straws or resorted to paper. However despite ditching the straw the new lid had more plastic in it than the old option combined.
Another famous company which had a large green-washing scandal, Sea World is a theme park and entertainment company that has sea life attractions and aquarium exhibits. The scandal which caused sea world a lot of grief was the mistreatment of the wildlife at the parks. Sea worlds killer whales are a large part of their famous attractions, however it has been found that the whales have been mistreated, they appear to have poor health and experience a lot of mental strain whilst in the care of sea life. Despite this sea life continue to deny these accusations and continue to keep the animals captive.
H&M is a multinational clothing company that sells fast fashion to women, men, teenagers and children, the fast fashion company known for their low prices and quick trends, the company have attempted to promote sustainability with previous collections however have been called out for not being as honest as suggested. H&M used a score system to display the sustainability of certain clothing items and were ranked to be a lot more sustainable than they actually are. Only the properties of the fabric was taken into consideration not the manufacturing influences, which was reported by JustSyle. This gave customers shopping with H&M a false representation of the sustainable properties within their products.
How can I avoid greenwashing
In order to avoid being caught out by green-washing when attempting to choose sustainable options it is important to do research to ensure avoiding any companies presenting 'sustainable' options that aren't actually what they claim to be. It is important to use reliable research formats and make sure claims which companies are making are verified by an outside party. It may also be necessary to consider investing in slightly pricier options to guarantee sustainability and quality.
5 eco-friendly options
A few examples of some sustainable brands that you can shop from to ensure your purchases are eco-friendly:
Leon, for an environmentally friendly food option when wanting to eat out, the chain restaurant uses biodegradable cutlery and straws, whilst also sticking to fair trade coffee.