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Why Greenwashing Affects Your Life More Than You Think

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Plastic cup with eco label
Only 6% of EU citizens trust producers’ claims about their products’ environmental performance completely

Source: Brian Yurasits [9]

Shopping, shopping, shopping. There are many things to consider, from function, urgency, to how our purchase will affect the environment, community and us.

The last part carries more weight than we think. A 2015 Nielsen survey reported that 68% respondents said they were willing to pay extra for sustainable goods [1] . Moreover, a whopping 73% of millennials say they’re likely to change their purchasing decisions based on environmental impact [2]. Here in Indonesia, 94% consumers emphasized the importance for companies to pay more attention to their environmental impacts and practice sustainability [3].

As this trend proliferates the global market, some companies have attempted to capitalize on it. It’s not entirely rare to see companies investing more time and money on marketing their brand as “green” rather than actually doing the hard work to make it so [4]

Not only does it mislead consumers, but greenwashing also sets a series of negative implications.


Greenwashing impact

Protest about green living and environment
PUMA has stated that 94% of the environmental impacts of its products occur along the supply chain

Source: Markus Spiske [10]

1. Consumers

Consumers who fall victim to misleading marketing and advertising techniques can end up buying products that may pose health risks. For example, natural or organic cleaning products may contain harmful chemicals that may not be conveyed to the consumers [6].

2. Business

While sustainable companies do exist, their presence and efforts are often hindered by the overly greenwashed market, thus slowing the penetration of legitimate eco-friendly products [7]. Consequently, greenwashing can cause consumers feeling discouraged by any sustainability efforts a company may make, which can potentially risk hurting the incentive-based, market-driven green product development.

3. Environment

In greenwashing, companies do not try to change their production patterns or the materials used to be environmentally friendly. They are just pursuing a marketing strategy that makes their activity look as if it has environmental benefits when it’s not in reality. And this thing can mislead people to acting unsustainably [8].

In implication, greenwashing is not really helping to further circular economy initiatives. Instead, the environmental problems that our production system poses stay the same or more likely, get worse.

A white paper with marketing strategy writings
Products that had a sustainability claim on-pack accounted for 16.6% of the market in 2018, up from 14.3% in 2013

Source: Campaign Creators [11]

These impacts should alarm us to become individuals who are more conscious and aware of our purchasing. One of the ways we can do this is to start becoming informed shoppers by doing research before buying a product because making sure all products are safe for the environment is our duty.


Visit our Green Living Project page to begin your zero-waste journey, or post your questions on our forum!



[5] Nat's article



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