With global warming looming over us, people are increasingly getting environmentally conscious every day. They are demanding corporations and big brands to be sustainably conscious as well because they don’t want to keep consuming products that might come back to haunt them and their future generations in the forms of global calamities and pollution.

To meet these standards without losing customers, companies are taking steps to become more eco-friendly and putting forth necessary sustainability claims. But more often than not, the claims that these companies make are misleading and borderline fake. In short, they greenwash. 

What Is Greenwashing?

So in simpler terms, greenwashing means marketing products in a way that assures the consumers that the brands are more environment-friendly than they actually are.

The term ‘greenwashing’ was first coined back in 1986 by environmentalist Jay Westerveld. It was during the time when advertisements were only done through television, radio and print media- social media marketing was yet to become a thing. 

This led to a limitation in terms of public access to information, and companies used this to their advantage as outrageously as they could. They advertised themselves as eco-friendly and green-conscious while actively participating in rather non-eco-friendly activities and methods to yield profit behind the curtains.

How To Spot Corporate Greenwashing?

But it doesn’t get very easy for the consumers to pull off the eco-friendly mask of these corporations even in this digital age, especially for laymen like you and me. 

So I did a short research, and I am here to help you out. Here are some tell-tale signs that you can keep an eye out for while trying to spot corporate greenwashing.

  • Usage Of Vague Terms

Take notice when products come with terms like ‘all natural’ and terms equivalent to it because, in all probability, they are misleading and greenwashing you. It’s very difficult and even unrealistic to make a product ‘all natural’. 

Also, when words like ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘green’ are thrown at you carelessly to build an image, they are probably just using these terms, but are not practising these themselves.

There’s no way for customers to actually know to what degree the product is environment-friendly, with such frivolous use of vague terms.

A prominent example of greenwashing through the use of vague terms is Fiji Water. So they were rightfully sued on grounds of false sustainability claims.

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  • Usage Of Aesthetic Images

To give you a false sense of the natural composition of the products, brands use green visuals to advertise their products. But these pictures and aesthetics are not proof of their sustainability claims, just a way to convince you and mislead you unconsciously. 

While it’s easy to get persuaded and live in a bubble, make sure you break the pattern and do your own research about the brands. Don’t be fooled by aesthetics.

  • Lack Of Substantial Information

If a company is truly a friend of the environment, they’d not be hesitant to publish their sustainability records and give proof of their claims. Most likely, the authentic brands will be proud of their track and will try to set an example and dedicate a considerable amount of their campaign in giving and publishing factual records of their eco-friendly work. 

They won’t just make statements without having information backing them up. Transparency is key. There’s no other way to establish trust, and you shouldn’t believe otherwise.

An example of a brand that really lacks in the transparency department is H&M. Other fast fashion companies are not very different since fast fashion and environmentally friendly sustainability cannot go hand in hand.

  • Third-Party Certifications And Trade-Offs

Look for third-party eco-friendly certifications and research on how reliable the third party is. If the certification source comes out to be trustworthy after a probe, you can go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief.

Lastly, be attentive towards trade-offs. There have been instances where while one product is said to be made completely out of recycled materials, the process through which it is made is extremely toxic and harmful for the environment. But of course, they don’t tell you that. 

They try to distract you from their own lack of responsibility towards mother nature by diverting your attention.

So again, you have to do a short research of your own. Yes, it might get tiring, but it’s worth it. You can never be too careful when our very planet is at stake.

Image Credits: Google Images

Sources: The Guardian, Forbes, Vogue Business

Find the Blogger: @NandiniMazumde5

The post is tagged under: greenwash, greenwashing, corporate greenwashing, corporations, companies, brands, global warming, climate, climate change, nature, green, aesthetics, all natural, vague terms, consumers, calamities, pollution, eco-friendly, environment, environment friendly,  sustainability claims, sustainability, future, generations, Jay Westerveld, advertisements, public information, Fiji Water, What Is Greenwashing?, How To Spot Corporate Greenwashing?, Usage Of Vague Terms, Usage Of Aesthetic Images, Lack Of Substantial Information, Third Party Certifications, Trade Offs, certification source,  certification, H&M, Transparency, authentic, authenticity, sustainability records, proof, facts, factual, factual records, profit

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