As a sustainable business ourselves, we often see other businesses claiming to be sustainable and/or eco friendly. How do you tell which ones truly are sustainable and which ones are greenwashing? (attempting to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is)
While we love seeing new brands pop up, it does become very clear that some brands market themselves in a misleading way. They want to take advantage of our kind and sustainable seeking nature!
Here are your top 5 ways to spot if a brand is greenwashing:
1. Check their materials.
Many brands will say their materials are sustainable when all they are really referring to is a box that the product comes in. The item they are producing has the largest impact on the environment. Check which materials they use to make their products and if they can't/won't tell you then that is a MASSIVE red flag. Are their materials raw, natural and sustainably produced? Where are their materials and products produced? Are their materials truly sustainable?
If they offer refill products, check that the container they are refilling is safe to be used over and over again.
2. Hunt for Buzzwords
There will always be the go to words floating around on a brand's website. Know what these words mean and how they are being used. For example "biodegradable" mean an object that is capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms and thereby avoiding pollution. Technically almost everything is will decompose...some things could take up to thousands of years. However, many materials degrade safer and much much faster, for example cork and paper.
3. They use difficult to understand language
Is their brand messaging confusing or inconsistent?
Is their language not detailed enough in terms of sustainability?
Do they have eco orientated branding but don't talk about the environment anywhere else?
4. Find out who makes their products
Are they made locally?
How much do they pay their staff?
What does your purchase mean in relation to their staff?
Who is making their products matter just as much as what the product is made from. Their staff should be working in fair working environments and using natural materials. Ask yourself why a company would avoid paying a reasonable wage to their staff.
5. They have one Eco/Green product and use that to make up for their other non eco products.
While it is good to see companies taking small steps such as introducing 1 line of environmentally friendly products. They tend to be hiding being 20 more un-environmentally friendly product lines.
It's 2021, brands all have a responsibility to lessen environmental harm. We, as consumers need to challenge and research products to avoid contributing to the success of greenwashing brands. If you spot a brand that you are suspicious of, ask them any questions you have, give them suggestions on how to be better. No product will be perfectly green and sustainable as everything has a carbon footprint. But we can shop better.