What is Greenwashing and How to Spot it?

One of the most pressing issues we will are currently facing and will continue to face as a society is climate change. Knowingly, it is largely due to human activity that our planet and environments are immensely struggling. Lack of action and urgency from all societies, governments and leaders worldwide is speaking volumes and we are ultimately running out of time to stop the detrimental impact it will have on planet earth.


As we have seen in recent news, there are many activists of all ages campaigning for change to be made as well as the growing school strikes for climate to encourage education and policy changes surrounding climate action.


As much as we as individuals want to assist the climate movement, corporations have a larger responsibility which would have more of a wider impact than the likes of small adjustments made by us. From transportation to the carbon footprint to materials used, there needs to be an overhaul of sustainable business mindsets to help assist the planet in its dire time of need.



What is Greenwashing?


Greenwashing is a concept that may not be familiar to the majority, but it plays a significant role within the climate change movement. Greenwashing is a modern term within contemporary society, it is ultimately the portrayal of misleading information involving businesses actions and products. This could be something as simple as a company exaggerating how much energy they save, or how much they use recycled goods, however every time this takes place, the more the planet will be affected.


The term itself originated in the 1960s when the hotel industry signposted guests to reuse their towels to supposedly save the environment, when it was actually to lower laundry costs.


Today, we see a lot of products claiming to be natural or chemical free, but for many businesses this can sometimes just be a marketing ploy to appear greener and more supportive of the climate change issues.


Some businesses use greenwashing practices as sales techniques, to attempt to gain a wider customer base by advertising their products or services as being environmentally friendly. For example, claiming its recyclable but not offering further information is deceiving, as this could mean the item itself or just the packing it is in.


Businesses should be mindful of how they go about portraying themselves in a greenwashing manner, as it can be detrimental to their reputation and cause serious harm should greenwashing claims be made towards them.


How to spot Greenwashing?


  • If companies are genuinely supportive of the environment and are doing their bit to help climate change, then there should be provable evidence. Check that their supposed claims of greener actions or goods are trustworthy by checking facts provided, to make sure they are credible before purchasing.


  • Businesses need to adapt sustainability into their business models as this is the prior way in which change can be appropriately adapted into the day-today running of businesses. Consequently, the more businesses which adapt greener practices within their working model, the more of a normality it should become over time, and the more we are individuals can expect this from companies going forward.


  • Be more sceptical of the wording of products, just because it may state ‘natural’, ‘green’, or ‘eco-friendly’, does not mean that these claims are true. Similarly, just because a business has greenery or nature imagery on the product or service, it doesn’t mean that the brand is any more environmentally friendly than the rest.


  • Look for juxtaposition, as some businesses may make efficient products that are seemingly aiding the climate, but then produce these in bad conditions which may be damaging towards the environment.


  • Check the packaging of any products as this should clearly state any green claims boldly.



What is Green marketing?


Unlike greenwashing, green marketing is more positive, it generally means goods and services are being sold on an honest criterion, that it has been carried out or produced in a greener manner.


This can be spotted when browsing in many ways from the moment of manufacturing to the dispatch. This marketing can be used if materials used within products are not from a protected or endangered area and then go on to be manufactured with sustainable methods. This includes paying workers a fair wage with good working conditions.


Furthermore, even just by not using excessive amounts of packing and not individually packaging goods that don’t necessarily need it, is a method of green marketing.


Overall, it is important you look out for unsubstantiated claims made by businesses and adapt this into your consumerist mindset next time you are out and about shopping. Essentially, make more mindful purchases that are credible of aiding the climate crisis that the planet is facing.


For further information on climate change and the action that need to take place, check out Mindless Mag.