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The Dirty World of Greenwashing

What is greenwashing and how do we spot it?

You have probably heard the same old thing when it comes to climate change. All over the news, social media posts, tv ads etc but have you heard about greenwashing?

Lets first discuss what climate change is all about and what greenwashing has to do with it. Going back to basics climate change is one of the most talked about envioumental issues and gradually becoming more of a threat as life goes on.

Climate change consists of the long-term shift in average weather patterns globally. Humans have played a part in the realease of carbon dioxide and other green house gases into the atmosphere since the 1800s. This has resulted in global temperatures to rise, leading to long term climate changes.

In fact during the 20th and 21st century the level of carbon dioxide currently in the atmosphere increased by 40% and now currently stands at 400ppm (parts per million). In most recent years 2019 had the highest level of carbon dioxide the atmosphere than at any time in the last 2 million years.

You may of heard the term whitewashing within in the corporate world but have have you heard of the term greenwashing? If you haven't there is no surprise over 85% of consumers have no idea wha it means! Do not worry though as there is a high chance you are definitely familiar with green products. You have probably seen them on store shelves and posted all over the internet, but what is it? In simple terms organisations, car brands and air lines employ false misleading environmental claims, consisting of product labelling, informing that a products contains "all natural ingredients," "eco friendly," "organic" etc. The population is misled by this information and the green claims are nothing more than marketing jargon and completely fabricated

So how is greenwashing related to climate change?

Greenwashing is constantly used and is becoming an increasing threat, not only to credibility but to the ability to retain a sustainable future. Organisations are aware that the population is gaining information on climate change and becoming aware of the risks influencing them to adopt to the more environmentally conscious behaviours. Businesses take this opportunity to jump on the green marketing trend.

The sole purpose is for businesses is not to increase profits and not a sustainable company or to aid the environment in any way. Organisations that uterlise the "Greenwashing" strategy to market their services and products are taking full advantage of the growing consumer demand for eco friendly products, and consumers desire to become more eco-friendly.

Research within consumer trends inform us that individuals desire to lower their carbon footprint. We can identify this by spotting a change within their purchasing habits. Instead of purchasing their go-to usual products they are now looking for products that are in favour with envioumentally friendly Behaviours. A recent study conducted found the four largest oil companies-BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil and shell have increasingly uterlised misleading language such as "low carbon" "climate and "transition" within organisation reports. The study found that from 2009-2020 Shell and BP in particular have incraesed their gas and oil consumption while stating the reduction of their fossil fuel projects. BP was in the midst of an advertisement campaign, advertising "Keep Advancing" and "Possibilities Everywhere." Their main focus point was advocating their low carbon energy products, when in fact over 95% of its annual investment went towards gas and oil.

Companies that exaggerate their ethic behaviour are continuously hindering all efforts made to reduce the evioumental effects constructed by human activity, but how do we we spot it?

It is very difficult to spot it. Companies need to ensure they are transparent with their language and not use jargon or marketing spin.

An example of transparency consists of activist and outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia. Patagonia is one company that does not sugar-coat their usage of chemicals or the fact that a footprint is left. The organisations suitability adveracasy is stated a "struggle to become a sustainable organisation"

One way to spot greenwashing is to familiarise yourself with the common language frequently used phrases such as "eco friendly" or "we recycle." Vague claims like this are usually token gestures to attract envioumentally conscious consumers.

Once you take notice to these world of products it is beneficial to conduct internal research and try to spot authenticity. Question is companies for example used to be a meat brand before becoming a liar brand.

Legitimate products and businesses will often have a stamp of approval i.e a B corporation, certifications including fair trade or cradle to grave and many more making it easier for to you know what is authentic and what isn't.

Consumers shouldn't believe everything they see. By having a think and using your common sense it is easy to spot what could be legit and what can't be "Do you really think that Fiji water that is constantly shipped it sustainable and eco- friendly?"

Another way to help spot greenwashing is looking out for recyclable/minimal packaging. Many businesses that still uterlise greenwashing techniques have the products wrapped up in a large consumption of packaging. While it says it the outerbox is recyclable the inner packaging may be filled with single use plastics. It is important to look out for this.

So now you understand more about greenwashing and how companies are very clever in misleading you. So next time you are out and about keep an eye out to what you think is legitimate and what could just be a facade!


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