Updated: Jan 12, 2022
Greenwashing is a term you may have heard, in today’s blog I break it down, so you understand what the term means and how you can tell if a company is doing it. Let me just clarify, that it happens across all industries, food, fashion, agriculture, hospitality, and travel… In order for us to know when we are being ‘greenwashed’ it’s important we understand what it means and why people do it!
What is Greenwashing?
Greenwashing is designed “to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is.”
Source: Cambridge Dictionary
Or, as the Corporate Finance Institute explains:
Greenwashing is where a firm spends time and money advertising and marketing that their goods or services are environmentally friendly when, in fact, they are not. In other words, greenwashing is the act of making false or misleading claims about the environmental benefits of a product, service, technology, etc.
White Lies and Green Lies?
I’m sure you’ve heard of white lies? Again, another seemingly harmless act of glossing over the truth for a more favorable outcome. We do it all the time, an example of this is telling someone the dinner they cooked for you was delicious, when in fact you thought it was tasteless. We’re all guilty of this. Green lies are related to our sustainability efforts — and many of us make out we recycle more than we do, for example.
So where does greenwashing come into it?
Unfortunately, when you’re a business ‘white-lies’ are not acceptable and create an illusion that you are better than you actually are, for us, the consumer, it’s misleading and can result in us supporting companies that do not deserve our money!
How do I know if a company is greenwashing?
It’s actually not that easy to spot — which is why it goes unnoticed so often. The best way to help you understand it is to offer an example of a couple of businesses that are frequently scrutinized for greenwashing.
H&M is often in the media announcing their plans to use more sustainable materials or doing a customer clothing take-back scheme in a bid to avoid clothing going to landfill… This is a very clever way for the company to make us focus on what they ‘are’ doing rather than looking at their business model which is, at the very core, unethical and unsustainable in every sense. They have the budget to use marketing as a smokescreen. Primark also launched a campaign called, #Primarkcares which caused outrage in the ethical fashion community.
This doesn’t stop here but, we can also encounter some ongoing Greenwashing trends in the Fashion Industry, as Kaley Roshitsh elaborates. From delaying on Goals Until 2050 to Carbon Offsetting, we have seen it all. Given the extremities we have lived due to COVID-19, we have indeed learned some harsh lessons on how our actions can have a huge impact and cause risk to human health. In spite of that, many companies are still waiting on data instead of acting and most importantly, making our ecosystem a priority.
All in all, customers are blinded in the name of commitment and not making any efforts, and being deceptive. Gone are the days when the customers expected Campaigns because now, all we expect are results. Results not just of how their products are assembled but, also, of the conditions in and of those who have made them.
We can no longer allow companies to hide behind words such as Conscious, Sustainable, Environment-friendly, as Hasan Minaj thoroughly sheds slight on the ugly truth behind one of the most known Fast Fashion Brands.
As the Holiday season is just around the corner, be aware of those so-called Made in … tags, organic cotton, cruelty-free, eco-friendly, and many more. Always look for proofs, facts, results to what is shown before making a decision.
It’s high time we as a society start making conscious decisions or else, we will always be deceived and forced to believe we're doing the right thing, making the right decisions for both our Planet and ourselves, when we are not.
I hope you found this useful and informative, and please let me know if you’ve spotted any companies who are greenwashing… it’s up to us to call them out on it.