What does greenwashing mean and what can you do to combat it?
Greenwashing is when a company gives us the false impression that its products are environmentally sound. Sustainability is increasingly important to consumers, but it takes a lot of time and resources to properly transform a business into a sustainable one. Marketing tactics and misleading information are often used instead to create a greener reputation.
Unfortunately, terms like ‘ethical’ or ‘eco’ do not have any legal definitions so using these buzzwords is an easy way for a company to improve its image without being held accountable. A fashion brand can release a ‘conscious collection’, which refers to only a tiny part of an extensive product line. Large companies can use slogans like ‘shop and save the planet’ without any substantiated data.
Transparency is the key to sustainability, and the best way to traceability are certifications based on global standards and third-party validation.
Ways to identify greenwashing
A recent global review of websites by the International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network (ICPEN) concluded that 40% of green claims online could be misleading consumers. Some types of greenwashing are:
- False claims or vague language
Also remember that terms like ‘natural’ don’t always mean the product is 100% eco-friendly: natural fabrics may be breathable and biodegradable, but their production still has an environmental impact. ‘Vegan’ doesn’t necessarily mean cruelty-free either unless you work with plant-derived products.
- Hidden information
Many brands will highlight their positive choices to conceal their shadier practices. A company may use recyclable packaging, but if they have not improved waste management and worker conditions, then their marketing is misleading you.
- How to identify truly sustainable products
Do the research! There are many independent certifications that evaluate sustainable practices: Fair Trade, EcoCert,Cradle to Cradle, PETA, or BCI. You can also contact the company directly about their practices. At Sea2see we will be delighted to explain our production processes to you.
Do your bit
Today the difficulty is not in finding sustainable products but separating them from the imposters. If the information isn’t clear, asking questions publicly on social media can get a rapid response.
Focus on brands that genuinely prioritise sustainability and spend your money on them. Truly sustainable companies are more likely to be transparent. Read the label and make sure that what you are buying is sustainable and 100% recycled, like Sea2see products. Use products that are made to last and stay away from single-use as much as possible.
Lastly, don’t be overwhelmed by all the information: the best thing you can do is gradually adapt your lifestyle to your beliefs. The more people live sustainably, the easier it will get for everyone, and benefit the planet.