Greenwashing: What to Know

Marketing hype combined with lack of industrial regulation is used to engage and exploit consumer’s growing interest in caring for nature and ‘green’ ethics. 

There are, however, businesses of all shapes and sizes that are doing truly good work in reducing their carbon footprint and caring for the environment. 

These businesses, along with you, the consumer, are the ones that ultimately fall victim to corporate greenwashing.

The fashion industry, cosmetics, the cannabis industry, and, unsurprisingly, big oil companies are notorious for making greenwashed claims.

Yes, some alternative materials may need more energy/fossil fuels to create. But at the end of the day, if a company is innovating and trying new things in the name of the environment, that’s important.

 What is greenwashing

Greenwashing is a deceptive form of marketing that claims a company’s products, policies and goals are environmentally friendly and therefore do less damage to nature, with an underlying purpose to increase profits

Greenwashing can come in two forms:

  • Companies spending more time, effort and energy pushing their products as being eco-friendly, rather than making them eco-friendly
  • Companies pushing products that are made from alternative materials that have a larger carbon footprint than ‘traditional’ materials.

Evidence of corporate greenwashing can be seen when large companies launch eco-friendly marketing ‘campaigns’

Upon closer inspection, you can regularly see that the business has spent more on the marketing campaign than on the environmentally sound practises themselves.  

Greenwashing’s effect on consumerism

Greenwashing also has ripple effects on consumer behaviour. 

In a knee-jerk reaction to avoid blatantly greenwashed products, consumers may actively search for ‘eco-friendly’ products.

This often leads to finding a product that’s not greenwashed, but not the best alternative, either. 

It’s at this point where honest marketing needs to be prevalent. 

Main takeaways:

  • Fast Fashion is at the forefront of greenwashing. 
  • These companies push a new trend every week, thus encouraging consumption and increasing waste. 
  • Because of the economies of scale, agriculturally sourced and plant-based ‘eco’ materials often leave a large carbon footprint. 

If you’re a consumer, do your own homework and check the facts around large corporations and their statements of ‘going green’.