Written By Susan Smart / Reviewed By Ray Spotts
There’s no denying that the conversation around the climate crisis has become louder in recent years. That’s great news – as we share more about climate change, we all have a chance to learn about what’s happening to the world around us and how we can make changes to lead a more sustainable life.
But not all noise is good. In a frustrating turn of events, a new trend has emerged – one which threatens to mislead and confuse consumers with the best intentions. It manipulates our desire to do good by making false claims about how sustainable a company, product or service really is.
In this blog, we’ll explore greenwashing in more detail and outline the top three things you need to know:
What it is
So what is greenwashing? Used as a marketing spin, it’s when companies provide misleading information about how environmentally friendly they - or their products - are. It’s used to deceive consumers into believing that the business or what they sell is more sustainable than it really is.
According to some, it’s specifically when an organization spends more time and/or money on marketing itself as “green” than it does on actually taking steps to become greener
Why it happens
Companies know that consumers are increasingly interested in making more sustainable decisions. In order to maintain their appeal or attract new customers, they may make a decision that they need to appear more sustainable.
It’s important to point out that there are so many inspiring stories of businesses making the right choices – actively making changes to become more sustainable and sharing what they’ve learnt along the way.
Greenwashing specifically refers to when companies make these claims without the actions to back them up. It’s designed to mislead those consumers who want to buy goods and services from environmentally-conscious brands. In other words, greenwashing happens to make - or save - money.
The term originally came about in the 1980s inspired by the “save the towel" movement in hotels that had little impact beyond saving hotels money in laundry costs.
What you can do about it
It’s easy to feel frustrated when you realize companies are making false claims. It’s actually leading to much greater distrust in companies when they do talk about their sustainability practices.
The most important thing you can do is to not give up. If you’re interested in living a more sustainable life, you’ll just need to do a bit of research to see if companies are living up to what they say.
First things first, be wary of certain vague marketing language – this guide explains how commonplace terms like “clean”, “non-toxic”, “natural” and “ethical” are in the beauty industry. They are often used to make a product seem more eco-friendly without actually saying much about the details of the ingredients and their impact on the environment.
It’s often better to rely on industry accreditations or recognizable standards. Beyond that, look for concrete examples or evidence of impact rather than wishy-washy claims.
You can also stick to sustainable choices that are within your control – for example, reusing and repair are better than buying new. Greenwashing is often encouraging us to purchase more stuff, when in reality it’s much more sustainable to use what we already have.
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Susan Smart is a marketing graduate, particularly passionate about sustainability and helping others discover the latest ways they can reduce their carbon footprint. For Susan, it’s about allowing people to make sustainable choices that suit their lifestyles and that all starts with finding the right information.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.