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What is Greenwashing and How to Spot it?


What is climate change?


Climate change is a term that many people are familiar with but to clarify, the phrase is used to describe long-term changes in the Earth's climate, such as variations in temperature, precipitation patterns, and extreme weather occurrences. These changes are mostly brought on by anthropogenic sources like the combustion of fossil fuels, deforestation, and industrial activities. The impacts of climate change are extensive and may have negative repercussions on ecosystems and human societies.  Some examples include. Elevated temperatures: For several decades, the world's temperatures have been rising, and this trend is predicted to continue. Several effects could result from this, such as more frequent heatwaves, a higher danger of wildfires, and the melting of glaciers and ice caps. The frequency of droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events might increase as a result of changing precipitation patterns brought on by climate change, which can also affect snowfall patterns. 


Awareness


Awareness is being spread on the topic in many different ways, for example, the climate change topic is a part of many school curriculums, especially in the subject of geography, where students are taught in detail about the causes and effects. Secondly, there have been many organised protests to spread awareness of the severity as well as spreading awareness of social media platforms which is a much more popular method of promoting and creating awareness of matters in today's society. Regardless of this, studies have shown that individuals between the ages of 30 and 49 (79%) and 50 to 69 (78%) were more likely to state that they had changed their behaviour to combat climate change, while those between the ages of 16 and 29 (68%) and those 70 and older (67%) were least likely to do so.


Greenwashing


This term may be less familiar. Essentially this activity consists of making misleading or exaggerated claims about an item's environmental benefits to attract environmentally sensitive customers. In essence, it is a type of misleading marketing that can persuade consumers to believe that a business or product is more environmentally friendly than it is. To varying degrees, various businesses, industries, and governments actively engage in greenwashing. This is frequently an attempt to satisfy the demand for sustainable solutions without changing the way things are now.


Companies who greenwash


Many big brands have been called out for greenwashing, of which some examples include:


McDonald’s with their green Initiatives and paper straws. The fast-food powerhouse launched a push in 2019 to lessen the amount of single-use plastics found in its stores with its primary goal being to completely phase out plastic straws in favour of recyclable paper straws. The new paper straws, however, are not recyclable, and their production and sourcing have prompted several sustainability concerns. Public opposition to the campaign has resulted as a result, yet McDonald's is still implementing it.


Secondly, Volkswagen was exposed in 2015 for fabricating emissions data on a number of its diesel models. This resulted in numerous lawsuits and enormous fines. The German automaker advertised its new line of diesel cars as one of the greenest options available. It wasn't until the US Environmental Protection Agency discovered that the cars created up to 40 times the amount of emissions that were claimed. VW claimed it misunderstood the testing standards and refuted accusations that it fabricated data and misled the public.


How to spot greenwashing


There are many ways you can spot if an organisation or brand are greenwashing. Take a look at these 3 ways of preventing and spotting greenwashing:


Look for verifiable, specific claims. Businesses that conduct "greenwashing" frequently employ ambiguous or generic terminology, such as "eco-friendly" or "sustainable," without offering specifics or verified facts about their environmental activities.


Look for certifications from outside sources. To ensure that a product or business meets strict environmental requirements, look for certifications from reliable organisations.

Look into the business's overall environmental performance. Investigate the company's background and current methods, such as their supply chain management, waste management, and utilisation of renewable energy.


Try to find transparency. Businesses that genuinely care about the environment will be open and honest about their procedures and offer comprehensive details on their environmental impacts and efforts to lessen them.



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