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4 Easy Ways to Bust Little Corporate Green Lies


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“100% recycled materials” when in reality it’s...0%

Source: Irene Davila [11]


All-natural, eco-friendly and biodegradable!”


Just how many times have you heard this catchphrase over the past few years?


Though it seems products marketed like this seem to do Earth so much favour, don’t be fooled because there are some companies out there who would just slap these words on their products so they can get to your wallet. In essence, this is what you call greenwashing; it’s when companies lure consumers into buying their product by making them seem “eco-friendly” when they’re actually not [1].


As consumers, we need to be cautious to notice these little green lies and here are 4 signs to spot and avoid greenwashing:


1. All talk but no walk


This is when companies would use green terminologies to convince consumers that their products are eco-friendly, such as promoting products with the tag “100% recycled materials” when in reality it’s...0% [2]. This is especially when the companies don’t provide any form of further elaboration or evidence [3].


Fiji water is an example case. Fiji Artisanal Water often claims that they are environmentally friendly, but look at their packaging: their water is bottled in plastic bottles [4], so how can they claim to be eco-friendly?


Once again, all talk but no walk.

Read also: Greenwashing: The Story of "Green Products" That Aren't Actually Green

2. No stamps of legitimacy


Here is an example case for this kind of greenwashing: L'Oreal claimed that one of their product lines is “vegan” when in reality, they still conduct animal testing on the very same product [5]. Although the definition of “vegan” remains vague to this day, it’s clear as day that the vegan community would not support any brand that exploits animals by allowing animal testing.


Another example would be stamping a random bunny or leaf icon to make it seem that their products are eco-friendly and cruelty-free. The truth is, any brand can easily put a bunny or leaf icon on their products, but this doesn’t mean they’re legit.


Want to know if the product you’re buying is actually vegan and cruelty-free? Then you gotta check for stamps from the Vegan Society and the Leaping Bunny [3]. Approval from government bodies is a major check as well [6].



Greenwashing appears so seamless

Source: Mert Guller [12]


3. The detail in the product


Sometimes if you pay attention to the detail and the fine lines, you could see the nooks and cracks from the so-called “green” product. You can see it from how the product is packaged, how it’s made and who made the product [7].


An example of this is the case of McDonald's switching to paper straws to achieve their commitment of delivering packages from renewable and recyclable materials by 2050. The only problem is….these straws CANNOT be recycled [8].


4. A “green” front


This is when the company tries to compensate for their false claims by putting a bunch of green pictures such as trees and flowers. These pictures actually do not do anything supportive of the product in regards to their claims, but rather it should pose more of a red flag to us [9].


Let’s bring Fiji water back as an example. You would notice that on their bottles they really push the green imagery, with the number of leaves and mountains on every product. However, this still doesn’t deny the fact that the product is packaged in a plastic single-use bottle or the fact that it’s not environmentally friendly [10].

Read also: The Cost of Our Throwaway Culture

Greenwashing appears so seamless, as it just disguises itself among the truly green products so don’t fret if you sometimes can’t notice it. The safest bet is to always research on the company and/or the products that they claim to be green. Make sure that everything they say is not all smoke and mirrors.


Hopefully, with these signs, you’ll be able to properly support companies who are joining the green movement and remember to be wary of the greenwashing!


Have more tips to avoid greenwashing? Feel free to share here


Sources:

[1]https://www.greenimpact.com/tips/environmental-marketing-greenwashing-tips-for-staying-out-of-trouble/

[2] https://greenandthistle.com/what-is-greenwashing/

[3]https://www.aconsideredlife.co.uk/2019/09/what-is-greenwashing-examples.html

[4]https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/news/greenwashed-fiji-water-bottles-myth-sustainability

[5]https://www.veganbeautygirl.co.uk/loreal-botanical-range-is-not-vegan/

[6] https://foodrevolution.org/blog/how-to-avoid-greenwashing/

[7] https://offcultured.com/how-to-spot-greenwashing/

[8]https://www.countryliving.com/uk/news/a28659267/what-is-greenwashing/#:~:text=What%20is%20an%20example%20of,press%20coverage%20surrounding%20McDonald's%20straws.&text=The%20straw%20switch%20was%20part,former%20Environment%20Secretary%20Michael%20Gove.

[9] https://plana.earth/academy/how-to-spot-greenwashing/

[10]https://medium.com/@zoe.vulpe/the-secret-ingredient-is-injustice-how-fiji-water-perpetuates-environmental-racism-8e1e047ff22a

Photos:

[11] https://unsplash.com/photos/m8KpeYUChIA

[12] https://unsplash.com/photos/jFBWOaoS-7o

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