Sustainability is on the rise, and it has come with a two-folded problem: brands are becoming really smart, tricking consumers on their so-called “green products”. In this guide we show you some useful tips on how to avoid greenwashing when shopping!
Say no to greenwashing. Loud and clear! Here at OurGoodBrands we find it impossible the large number of brands coming up with claims that are simply inaccurate. Moreso, they come with an “educational” angle, and the nice-to-hear buzzwords such as “ethical”, “handmade”, “natural ingredients”. But often, the handmade is actually jewelry manufactured in China, made out of short lived materials, that will go in the bin after a few uses. Believe us, when we say as experts on sustainable brands – “we have been tricked too!”
And this is exactly why this is a very important conversation to have. So let us dive deeper into all the different things to consider to proof-check these brands are actually sustainable or ethically-made. If you need things done for you, we have created this extensive worldwide ethical brand directory as a tool for you to explore the brands based on your personal ethical & green values.
Let’s provide you with some background on the concepts of greenwashing and dive right into some of the most important tips in your checklist to avoid being greenwashed! Unleash your eco-conscious shopping powers to put an end to fake marketing claims!
What does greenwashing imply?
In marketing, greenwashing is the practice of using greens, blues, and buzzwords like “natural” to portray a company as environmentally friendly. Despite their claims to the contrary, they are causing harm to the exact environment that their copywriters are trying to save.
Consumers, particularly the millennial generation, are eager to become green. As a result, greenwashing is used by companies to influence customers. Increasing numbers of Millennials express their want to purchase from firms committed to social and environmental responsibility. Through our purchases, we may have a significant influence on producers.
Who is at risk of being greenwashed?
Greenwashing may mislead buyers eager to do their part to rescue the planet. We’ve compiled the top greenwashing tactics to steer clear of if you’re looking to invest in brands that are truly environmentally friendly rather than those pretending to be.
With this list of greenwashing tactics from Practically Green, you’ll be able to shop more sustainably online. More than eighty-one percent of E.U. residents don’t believe the claims of ecologically friendly apparel companies. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to tell the fake greens apart!
10 Greenwashing Tricks to Avoid
1. Assumption of Greenness
What a bizarre organ is the brain! Visual and audio cues will cause the brain to link two unrelated concepts together. As a result, corporations may fool your brain into thinking of them as environmentally sound without ever stating it out loud.
Product photography in stunning natural locations is one of the most preferred methods for achieving this. By associating their brand’s sustainability with the names of their products, they hope to influence your subconscious mind.
2. Using Adjectives That Aren’t Related
All-natural, eco-friendly, plant-based, and organic are buzzwords everywhere you look in the packaging industry.
However, did you realise that these phrases are not used in a consistent or controlled manner?
If anyone in the world can put those words on their packaging, it doesn’t matter if their product is even remotely environmentally friendly. Those firms’ practises of sustainability are unsatisfactory. Keep an open mind, particularly if it’s green.
Greenwashing is a frequent tactic, but remember that not all firms are out to deceive us with these statements. A corporation can claim to be “natural and organic” if it follows strict, internationally recognised standards.
In OurGoodBrands’ Directory Code of Conduct we have listed some of the most common terms on ethical values as well as some of the popular certifications to help you avoid being greenwashed as a conscious shopper.
4. Dig a little deeper
Because of the ease of internet shopping, it’s all too easy to purchase something on the spur of the moment without first conducting any research to see if the company you’re purchasing from is living up to its promises. With digital shopping carts, you can easily determine if a company is doing its part to protect the environment.
Open a new browser window and see whether the brand has any proof or reputable third-party certification markings. Search for the business name and the term “greenwashing” to discover more about whether or not the product is worth your money.
5. Is it a Social or Eco Enterprise?
A safe way to go is to check whether a brand is clearly identified as an eco and/or social enterprise. How to? At OurGoodBrands we often talk about the business models behind these types of brands, and we have come up with these 4 identifiers to recognise a eco or social enterprise.
And if that’s not enough, you can always dig deeper and see if the brand you are looking up for their business models (we call it the 4’S: Selling, Sourcing, Staffing or Sharing). If you read this guide on the four typical business models of ethical brands that claim to be a social or eco enterprise, you will become an absolute master in shopping genuine sustainable brands.
6. The Best of the Worse
Companies use comparison games to get customers to buy their products since it’s impossible to be perfect all the time. Companies can fool people into believing they’re making a better choice when choosing a decision that is just as harmful to the environment or unhealthy.
Organic cigarettes are a great illustration of this kind of business. As damaging to one’s health as conventional cigarettes, the phrase “organic” may be added to almost anything, and a whole new market of customers will fall for the product, regardless of the truth.
7. Ignoring the Whole Life Cycle of a Product
This is a common greenwashing tactic. Only a portion of the product’s lifespan, such as the fact that it comprises recycled material, will be disclosed.
They neglect to discuss the production process, which might involve harmful actions to both the environment and human health, such as the use of a high quantity of carbon emissions or conventional energy.
8. Being Wilfully Ambiguous
Brands that wish to project an image of environmental stewardship but aren’t forthcoming about it often use broad and ambiguous language in their product packaging and descriptions.
Using excellent numbers for marketing, such as the quantity of recycled material a firm uses each year, while not disclosing other, less ethical and sustainable statistics, such as poor working conditions, might be another way a corporation uses this strategy.
The following are some examples of ambiguous statements to be wary of:
- “Friendly to the environment”
9. Hidden Polluters of the Parent Company
It’s no secret that environmental consciousness is becoming more and more commonplace. Conglomerates respond to this trend by building smaller brands and employing ambiguous keywords and dreamy images of nature, and as a result, finding out who makes a product might be difficult, even if you’re an eco-aware buyer.
Unilever, the parent business of Love Beauty and Planet, is responsible for a major portion of the world’s plastic waste, even though Love Beauty and Planet seem to be eco-friendly on the surface.
10. Values That Are In Opposition To Each Other
It’s not uncommon for businesses to pretend to care about the environment while hurting it with their products. So let’s speak about Fijian mineral water. The corporation that sells water should be honest when it comes to their business methods, yet they aren’t.
Class action lawsuits have been filed against Fiji Water because they claimed to be carbon neutral. They even went so far as to claim that every bottle of Fiji Water purchased would reduce atmospheric carbon by 120 per cent. There’s a chance this is true, but the impacts won’t be felt until 2037, to be precise.
11. Imaginary friends
Firms who want to seem reputable may attempt to tie themselves to brands that appear to make environmentalists happy. In reality, they don’t exist at all. Labels that seem to be from a third party might be used to bolster the credibility of these claims. We think that’s cunning!