WHAT IS GREENWASHING?
The term greenwashing comes from the practice of using green imagery to promote products and services that aren’t necessarily eco-friendly. In fact, some companies use greenwashing to make themselves look like good corporate citizens while doing nothing to improve the environment. In fact, many times, these companies will do things that are harmful to the environment.
Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or misleading information about how a company's products are environmentally sound. Greenwashing is an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company's products are environmentally friendly or have a greater positive environmental impact than what is true.
Many companies are guilty of hoodwinking their customers about their sustainability claims.
How Greenwashing Works
Also known as "green sheen," greenwashing is an attempt to capitalize on the growing demand for environmentally sound products, whether that means they are more natural, healthier, free of chemicals, recyclable, or less wasteful of natural resources.
Of course, not all companies are involved in greenwashing. Some products are genuinely green. These products usually come in packaging that spells out the real differences in their contents from competitors' versions.
The marketers of truly green products are only too happy to be specific about the beneficial attributes of their products.
Our website for Reer Endz, for example, explains that our underwear is made from GOTS Certified Organic Cotton, throughout the website consumers can read about the benefits of organic cotton and how it is a sustainable material that makes it better for the people & the planet. Even the mailer used in shipping is made from compostable made from bio-plastics'
Examples of Greenwashing
A beach towel is labelled “50% more recycled content than before.” The manufacturer increased the recycled content from 3% to 4%. Although technically true, the message conveys the false impression that the towel contains a significant amount of recycled fiber.
A garbage bag is labelled “recyclable.” garbage bags are not ordinarily separated from other rubbish at the landfill or incinerator, so they are highly unlikely to be used again for any purpose.
The claim is deceptive since it asserts an environmental benefit where no meaningful benefit exists.
What Are Some Other Types of Greenwashing?
One common form of greenwashing is to include misleading labelling or burying environmentally unsound practices in the fine print.
This can include terminology such as "eco-friendly" or "sustainable," which are vague and not verifiable.
The imagery of nature or wildlife can also connote environmentally-friendliness, even when the product is not green.
Companies may also cherry-pick data from research to highlight green practices while obscuring others that are harmful.
Such information can even come from biased research that the company funds or carries out itself.
For example manufacturers of Bamboo underwear will state that bamboo is grown organically, and while this can be true most of the time (still not all the time) they then leave out the fact that Bamboo is then put through some harsh chemicals such as sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid, and carbon disulphide during the manufacturing process to turn hard bamboo into soft smooth Bamboo viscose.
How Can You Spot Greenwashing?
If greenwashing is going on, often there is no evidence to back up the claims that a company is making.
Sometimes verifying is more difficult than others, but you can look to third-party research, analyse reports, and check the product's ingredients list.
True green products will often be certified by an official vetting organization, which will be clearly labelled.
At Reer Endz all of our packaging is marked with the GOTS-certified logo which you can learn more about HERE
Some misleading logos are the OEKOTEX is marketed to the consumer to make them think that the Bamboo products marked with them are free of chemicals, however, this is not the case!
The Standard is good for our bodies as it ensures there are no chemicals left in the garment when complete, and therefore no chemicals come into contact with our skin when we wear the clothes.
Yet, OEKOTEX does not refer to the chemicals used during the production process or ensure they were disposed of responsibly.
In a nutshell, OEKOTEX ensures clothes are safe for the humans who wear them, but not for the environment or anyone else involved in the making of the garment.
Why Is Greenwashing Bad?
Greenwashing is deceitful and unethical because it misleads investors and consumers that are genuinely seeking environmentally-friendly companies or products.
Often, green products can be sold at a premium, making them more expensive, which can lead consumers to overpay. If greenwashing is revealed, it can seriously damage a company's reputation and brand.