What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is when a company makes misleading claims about how environmentally friendly their services, products or technology are. This is done with the aim of making the company seem to be more green. Companies greenwash to improve their reputation and make themselves stand out from their competitors.

With an increased demand for environmentally-sound services, greenwashing has become more prevalent recently. The unfortunate effect is that more companies are claiming to be greener than what they are, and consumers are becoming more skeptical of genuinely environmentally friendly products. This also means there is less pressure put on companies to find genuinely green alternatives.  

How Do I know if a Company is Greenwashing?

With few regulations currently in place, it can be difficult to know whether greenwashing is happening. One red flag is if a company spends a great deal on advertising how environmentally friendly they are, but does not also invest in implementing environmentally-friendly systems. A good example would be packaging; often it’s designed with natural images to infer the company is green-minded, but there may be no proof to back this up. Another instance to be aware of is the language used in marketing; for example, a company may claim to be researching ‘clean power’, when in actuality it is only a small part of their overall business.

Recently, the Federal Trade Commission has created new regulations to create more transparency from organizations, however consumers should still try to buy responsibly. If you want to make sure you’re fully informed, look at the company as a whole and do a little research to see if they actively promote sustainability. Google the company with the word ‘environment’ for further information, and try to look past marketing gimmicks.

Greenwashing hurts consumers, businesses, and the environment. Taking time to research companies and products can help you be an environmentally responsible consumer.