Companies have a history of spending more money advertising their products as ‘green’ than on actually implementing sustainable materials and ethical practices into making them. This is called greenwashing, and it’s a problem.
Why? Because consumers are tricked by misleading information and vague terms into thinking that they are making a conscious purchase. We see greenwashing everywhere as businesses know that being green sells (research shows that 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for a product if they know it comes from a sustainable brand), however, it is not often reported.
Greenwashing can also be executed more subtly – making it harder to be called out for. For instance, you may see products in earthy tones (e.g green and brown) or with pictures of nature on them, and come to the conclusion that they are natural and sustainable.
How to avoid greenwashing?
- Trust your intuition: If you’re questioning if a product claim is ‘too good to be true’, or seems unbelievable, steer clear for the time being and do research into the credentials.
- Research: Invest time in doing your homework on certain products and their manufacturer. Dig deep and you’ll find every statistic you could need to assess a company’s carbon footprint and ingredients. Note: if you’re struggling to find a lot of information easily, what you’re looking for probably isn’t sustainable (if it was, the company would be more eager to display their sustainability efforts with customers).
- Be selective: Get to know and create a list of individual retailers that you know you can trust.
If a product is marketed as sustainable, then this is relatively easy to confirm and fact check yourself. Just lookout for the following:
- Packaging: Less packaging and no plastics.
- Materials: recycled/renewable materials e.g. fast-growing bamboo.
- Longevity: designed to last, be reused, or recycled.