You have probably heard the term ‘greenwashing’ before, but are you able to define what it actually is? Don’t worry if not, we can’t all be in tune with every single eco buzzword out there🤯 And if it makes you feel any better, a Good Housekeeping Institute poll found that more than 85% of readers didn’t know the meaning of it. However, if you are eco-conscious, or trying to be, keep reading to understand more about greenwashing and how to spot it 👇
What is greenwashing?
Greenwashing may sound clean but it’s real dirty business. In short greenwashing is when a company spends more time shouting about being sustainable or eco than actually minimising their effect on the environment👎 The Oxford English Dictionary defines greenwashing as “activities by a company or an organisation that are intended to make people think that it is concerned about the environment, even if its real business actually harms the environment”
Why is understanding greenwashing so important?
Greenwashing deceives the consumer into thinking they are supporting a sustainable brand, in line with their values, when in actual fact they aren’t😢Therefore, it isn’t just illegal, but unethical.
Meanwhile, genuinely eco-friendly businesses don’t get the recognition or support for all of their efforts towards being sustainable.
What is being done to prevent greenwashing?
From 1st January 2022, The UK’s Competition and Market Authority’s (CMA) new Green Claims Code was issued to help businesses communicate their environmental or green credentials without misleading their customers💚 The CMA is concerned that too many businesses are falsely taking credit for being green, and so will review all environmental declarations made by companies, taking action to those who are greenwashing.
How can I spot a brand greenwashing?
It isn’t easy trying to live sustainably, and so we understand that it can feel overwhelming trying to find the right brands to support. Read these 4 simple steps to know what to check for next time you feel unsure about a brand:
- Transparency🔍 - any brand which is putting the environment and people first will most likely want to tell you about it. Search their website for more information - is it readily available? If so this is a great sign, if not then get in contact with them. It shouldn’t be hard to answer your questions if they are transparent and are doing what they are claiming to.
- Buzzwords🗣 avoid fluffy language that has no meaning or evidence to back it up. Just because a business has described themselves as ‘sustainable’ or ‘eco-friendly’ doesn’t mean that they are. Look further and if it isn’t clear don’t be afraid to contact them!
- Resources📕 it can be helpful to have a read around on websites and books to help you out. We recommend Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough Michael Braungart or How To Break Up With Fast Fashion by Lauren Bravo. Also, have a look at the B-Corp directory where you will find brands who meet high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors including employee benefits, charitable giving, supply chain practices and input materials.
- Investment💸 most often than not, eco-friendly products will cost more money. This is for several reasons, such as better sourcing, quality materials and employee welfare. If a brand is claiming to be ‘eco’ but seems cheap, do a bit more research before taking the plunge!
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