When a company’s marketing practices give the impression that their products are more environmentally friendly than they actually are, it’s called greenwashing. Greenwashing is common in many industries, but some sectors are more notorious for it than others. The beauty industry and home cleaning products often use greenwashing tactics to appeal to consumers. Everyone is striving to make more environmentally conscious decisions these days and it’s easy to fall victim to a company’s marketing ploys.
8 signs that a company might be engaging in greenwashing:
- They make unsubstantiated claims about the environmental benefits of their products.
- They use vague or misleading terms like “natural”, “green”, and “pure”
- They have a history of unethical or unsustainable business practices, specifically environmental violations.
- Using misleading images or graphics in their marketing materials.
- They use suggestive packaging. Oftentimes products masking themselves as green will use kraft paper, matte packaging or natural colors without any real steps towards sustainability.
- They exaggerate the recyclability of their products.
- They downplay the harmful impacts of their products.
- They engage in greenwashing to distract from other unethical business practices.
Greenwashing is a serious problem because it can lead to people making environmentally damaging decisions based on misleading information. It’s important to be critical when evaluating claims about environmental friendliness and to do your own research to make sure you’re not being misled.
If you’re looking to buy green products, be skeptical of companies that claim their products are better for the environment than they actually are. There are many honest, sustainable businesses out there that want to make a difference, so don’t let the bad apples spoil it for everyone!
Tips for finding products making ethical and sustainable decisions:
Fair Trade Certified
Fair Trade Certified products have been verified as meeting rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards.
Organic products also must meet certain requirements, including being produced without synthetic pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers or other harmful chemicals.
Energy Star certified products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
B-Corp ranges across industries so you can find products like B-Corp conditioners, dog food, and furniture. As well as B-Corp services such as auto body repair shops, and hair salons. Becoming a certified B-Corp organization involves meeting many rigorous social, environmental, and economic requirements. Find companies making strides both around sustainability and ethics here.
Products made from recycled materials conserve resources and reduce pollution.
When you buy locally made products, you’re supporting your community and reducing the environmental impact of transportation. Shop at local farmers’ markets, boutiques, and other small shops. If you order online, see if there is a local pickup.
Support businesses using renewable energy.
Companies that use energy sources like solar and wind power are working to help the environment. Check to see if their sustainability claims pan out to their manufacturing and transportation.
It can be difficult to make ethical and sustainable decisions when it comes to buying products. But by being aware of what to look for and the obvious signs of greenwashing you can buy with confidence and help the environment.