What Is Greenwashing? How Can We Avoid Being Greenwashed?

What Is Greenwashing? How Can We Avoid Being Greenwashed?

We have done it pretty well, that everything is tend to be eco-friendlier everywhere. Energy generation is going toward eco-friendlier way, our everyday products are starting to be greener, and even many of our food products are produced in sustainable way.

But have those things become really green, or just using the trend to get more sales? Well, apparently not all products promoted and marketed as ‘green’, or ‘eco-friendly’ are giving the benefits that we actually want.

There is a way to call the deceitful and false marketing. The process is called greenwashing, and it happens all over the world. The main reason for this is to get more sales, with rising trend of eco-friendliness preference in the market.

How to identify a greenwashing? Here in this article we are going to talk about it.

What The Heck Is Greenwashing?

Source: pixabay.com

According to Cambridge Dictionary, greenwashing is “to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is”.  Simply said, greenwashing is a practice done by companies to make people, including you, think that they are doing something good for the nature.

But why do they care to even do so? Because naturally human are avoiding the guilty feeling they get from consuming products which destroy the nature. Thus, consciously and subconsciously, greenwashed products attract more customers.

The practice of greenwashing comes in many different ways. The companies can simply use ‘natural’ colors’ like green, blue, brown, or white. Using natural color is the lowest degree of this misinformation, but effective enough to fool so many people.

They can also put misleading labels to their products. While putting misleading labels is the next step. Most labels that the companies put in their products are such as “conscious”, “vegan approved” or “100% green” instead of actual certification from watchdogs.

Even some companies are willing to spend some extra money to show their ‘concern’ toward nature. The example is when Deepwater Horizon tragedy happened, BP who is the company responsible for it launched a program called “Beyond Petroleum” and even they conducted ocean cleanup. All of those were done to keep their business open by masking their mistakes with marketing strategy.

The Problem With Greenwashing

Oil Platform

So, what’s the problem with being tricked by such companies’ marketing strategy? There are several problems await if we are easily tricked with the marketing strategy. First is that the destructive companies will earn more profit to destroy the earth.

Look at how BP tricked the whole world thinking that they really cared about the fish and marine birds affected by oil spill from Deepwater Horizon. While in fact, they are still mining oil from the earth and polluting our atmosphere for money.

And we are also supporting such action too. Researchers found that Gen Z tend to spend more money on products that certify themselves as sustainable. Not only it gives chance for companies to sell more items, but they can also mark-up the price for more profit.

“More than any other generation that came before, Generation Z is more prepared to open their wallets for a brand that promotes causes about social impacts, such as climate, LGBTQ, racial or social justice,” says Sertac Yeltekin, the COO of Insitor Partners, a Singapore-based, socially focused venture capital fund as quoted from Euronews.

It means that companies are fully aware of our goodwill, and make money from it without practically cares about the nature. “”This gives them unprecedented power to shape the success or downfall of companies. They are intrinsically aware that they can drive this corporate change.”

Avoiding This Mind Trick

greenwashing label

So, how can we avoid such dirty mind tricks? We cannot let those companies make use of our goodwill to save the nature for profit, while in fact they don’t contribute anything to it, or worse they even destroy our beloved nature from the money produced.

First step is: learn about their labelling. Make sure you really read and question about their labelling. There are actually specific labels such as USDA Organic, RSPO Certified Sustainable Organic, and FSC which means the product have actually been certified.

Those labels mean much more than just green stamps with misleading words such as “eco-friendly”, “recyclable”, “sustainable”, etc. We can learn what labels actually means what it means or just some marketing strategy.

Second is by learning the company and its affiliations instead of relying on their claims alone. In example, Forbrukertilsynet’s deputy director Bente Øverli said, “H&M are not being clear or specific enough in explaining how the clothes in the Conscious collection are more ‘sustainable’ than other products they sell”.

“As H&M are not giving the consumer precise information about why these clothes are labelled Conscious, we conclude that consumers are being given the impression that these products are more ‘sustainable’ than they actually are”.

Choosing Real Green Products

Lush bath bombs with no packaging by Jerome Vial Wikimedia Commons
Lush bath bombs with no packaging by Jerome Vial Wikimedia Commons

When a product says “contains 100% more recycled materials” instead of “made of 100% recycled materials”, have you got the idea which one is brainwashing you?

In this era, where each product in the market is labelled with incredible ultimatums, we have to be smart to choose the ones that really contribute to positivity. Green marketing doesn’t include green washing, and it has to meet several criteria.

Some of the criteria are: it is manufactured in sustainable fashion, 0% of toxic and ozone-depleting materials, made of recycled or renewable materials, does not include excessive packaging, and instead of disposable is made to be repairable.

Finding products that match some or all of those criteria is actually not that hard. Learning the conditions can help us to learn better about false claims or greenwashing in other products. And once we find the correct products, we will have the knowledge to choose the right ones for the future.

Another thing to learn is that green marketing is always about transparency, and greenwashing is always about hiding behind the curtain. Products that are really eco-friendly will be able to tell you anything you want to know instead of just putting misleading words.

There is nothing need to be hidden when you are doing good thing. And since green products sell more nowadays, what prevents them from showing their sustainability concept?







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