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The Lies Behind Greenwashing

How to spot the lies that companies feed us.

Greenwashing has been known since the 1980s and was founded by environmentalist Jay Westerveld. Should companies get away with greenwashing? Is it ethically, right?


A marketing strategy known as 'greenwashing' is used by businesses to make it appear as though their goods and services are environmentally friendly when they really have not been. This is ethically wrong as it is dishonest to customers to trick them into consuming their goods or services as they lie to customers claiming to be environmentally friendly.

Greenwashing affects both the consumer and the environment as it can be challenging for customers to know which businesses lie making it even harder for the eco-friendly companies to compete in the market as customers are getting sceptical if businesses are lying to gain more customers or telling the truth because they actual care about the environment. By companies using greenwashing may also promote a culture of carelessness as it leads people to assume that by purchasing eco-friendly items it means they are helping the environment, when really there are many things to be done for the environment that people don't read or investigate.

Forms Of greenwashing

There are many forms of greenwashing that are common for businesses to use, I will explain some examples of greenwashing can be.

Firstly, businesses can make statements that can be untrue and dishonest about their products and them being environmentally friendly, this may be seen through promises made to customers about change to their products that through using people's honest hearts a promise is something people use to trust one another about the information being told; this is extremely unethical as people's opinions are claiming to be heard and they false advertise their promise's to make their products eco-friendly or biodegradable.

Secondly, companies are very clever in appearing to be eco-friendly, they legally won't advertise that they are eco-friendly but can look as if their products are. Such as featuring an image of a tree on a label may give customers the impression that if they buy this product then it could help the environment in some way; it is unreliable and not factual that just because they use images of the environment doesn't mean that the brand cares enough to help fix or contribute to helping climate change.

Thirdly, businesses can focus on small environmental changes rather than the bigger changes that needs to be done, this can be done through businesses making their products through recycled materials which is great, but they don't admit or want to acknowledge that the production to make that item is worst due to the energy used in the production process.

All these examples shows how a company can manipulate their products to look good in consumers eyes, whilst people have become more aware about the environment and climate change we have also become more aware that through companies using fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) they are the largest contributor to global climate change, meaning that with the small false changes they claim to use it wouldn't change a lot regardless if their promises were true.

Do companies only care for their money and not their reputation?

Consumers stepping up

There are many simple and easy steps that can be taken by customers to ensure they don't get scammed by companies. One easy step is don't stop at the label; as customers don't assume that just because the company shows a green label or uses words to confuse customers that they are echo-friendly, look into the company to see what they stand for, if the company is eco-friendly they will say on their websites as it is something to be proud of. Companies can reveal what they are doing to help the environment but don't feed into the lies of their promises.

If companies truly try to be environmentally friendly they will have third-party certificates that are well known to partner with other companies. Such as rainforest alliance; they have partnered with 12 different companies to try make an impact for the environment and for people's lives. They are known to work with sustainable coffee farmers so that it can improve their lives but also their communities.

Thirdly, be smart with their wording; this includes vague and unclear language, when companies are telling truth they will try to support what they are saying to their customers with evidence or facts. When businesses mislead customers with information, they will twist wordings so that it can benefit their business by not false advertising as legal actions can be taken, if they haven't used specific facts to say their business is environmental.

Lastly, look into small businesses that do the same products or services, many small businesses are not seen due to big businesses being well known but customers are misled more by big businesses as they don't have much to lose due to the amount of customers they get; with small businesses they are trying to work their way up into the market which means lying and giving false information can destroy their small business due to customers being loyal so can easily leave.

To sum up, greenwashing is extremely unethical and misleading, companies create an illusion about their products or services being environmentally friendly so that customers feel more obliged to spend that little bit more money. With the points given on how to spot greenwashing it can be extremely helpful to see how promises can't be taken seriously when it comes to businesses and shows that money will always be companies number one priority, this shows that it is down to the customers to see through the lies and choose the better option rather than the easiest option.


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