How to avoid greenwashing
So, how can you identify companies that are greenwashing? There are thousands of companies in the US and Canada alone that claim to have green products. Since there has been an increasing number of companies that are greenwashing, there are several tips that can help you identify greenwashing.
Commonly known as the Seven Sins of Greenwashing, these tips can help you identify this unethical practice and avoid being a customer of companies who practice this.
1. Hidden Trade-Off - Some companies only apply one small set of environmentally-friendly attributes and yet label their products as highly environmentally friendly. It takes many steps to be considered as a fully environmentally friendly company. So don’t be too quick to believe any products carrying environmentally friendly labels.
2. No Proof - Anyone can say they have green products or their company is committed to the environment. It’s one thing to make this effort a business value, but it’s a completely different thing to have a product that is actually environmentally friendly. Companies that claim their products are environmentally friendly need to back this claim with easily accessible data, evidence, and/or certifications consumers to verify.
3. Vagueness - A company that is fully committed to the environment will be transparent with their customers. These companies want to let the consumers know what their efforts are and how they are contributing towards the conservation of the environment. Terms that are too broad is not a good sign because many companies try to disguise their products as environmentally friendly by using terms that are vague and poorly defined.
4. Irrelevance - Some companies choose to use terms that are technically true but have no relevance to the quality and standard of the products. They want to make an impression on consumers with these technical terms, but upon closer inspection, these terms have no bearing on the products. For example, a company claims their products are CFC-free and therefore eco-friendly. But since the use of this chemical has been banned since 2010, any company stating their products are CFCs free is unremarkable. For greenwashing companies, technical terms are only used to impress consumers.
5. Lesser of Two Evils - Companies that are in an environmentally unfriendly sector often resort to this claim. They often label their products as the greener option than their competitions when the product is in a category that is, as a whole, environmentally unfriendly.
6. Worshipping False Labels - At times, there’s nothing irresponsible companies won’t do. This includes the use of fake or irrelevant certifications. These companies rely on consumers’ need for third-party endorsement to believe a product is genuinely environmentally friendly. It doesn’t hurt to be extra careful when you see products carrying third-party endorsement labels. Genuine certifications will have ample content you can find online like ours: WRAP and FairWear.
7. Fibbing - This is straight up lying. Some companies are bold enough to lie through their teeth and claim their products are eco-friendly and satisfy all the requirements of an environmentally friendly product. Consumers who are less aware might buy into these lies.