How to fight agaisnt greenwashing ?

Your guide to GREENWASHING

If you want to fight against greenwashing and not be deceived by brands anymore, you may want to aquaint yourself with the techniques companies frequently use. By learning what are the technical processes and types of arguments that can mislead consumers, you will be able to recognize greenwashing and become more apt to avoid it. Here are some clues inspired by EcoWatch (website that you can find at the bottom of the article) to help you discover what techniques brands may use for greenwashing.

Greenwashing techniques

How to recognize greenwashing?

pollution

Selective Disclosure: Brands often promote the benefits of their products for the environment, which influences consumers and leads them to believe that their products are eco-friendly. However, they do not talk about the negative effects their products might have. It is possible that they used non-eco-friendly means of production to create an eco-friendly product. For example, in order to see if a company is greewashing, you can try to find out about the manufacturing methods used ih creating the product.

Symbolic Actions: Brand communication campaigns generally highlight their good and sustainable actions. However, this does not mean that all their actions are eco-friendly. Try then to compare the actions of the company, and do not stay focused on those put forward by the brands.

Hidden Trade-Offs: Some companies announce a lasting change in their practices or in the ingredients of their products. Do not be satisfied with these statements without further research. It turns out that they are sometimes even more damaging to the environment.

Lack of Proof: Beware when brands say their products or services are eco-friendly without coming up with any proof, it often means that their claims are false.

Vagueness: Companies are often times vague while using broad terms that don’t mean anything concrete – terms that don’t specify exactly a ‘green’ product is and how it is more sustainable that any other product on the market. This techinque creates confusion among consumers, who may then believe that a product is eco-friendly.

Irrelevance: Some brands propagate information that are in fact true about their activity, but they shouldn’t have to say it because what they say is supposed to be normal. For example, if a brand states in its communication campaign that it does not exceed a certain level of CO2 emissions when the law prohibits exceeding this level, their aregreenwashing. Finding out about the standards imposed by the law can help you recognize greenwashing.

Meaningless Labels: It often happens that brands claim impressive terms that suggest that their products are green. If you have no knowledge of the real existing labels, you can be fooled. Check and compare what they certify with real certifications.

Overinflated Phrases: Sometimes, even if they are not lying, companies allege an ecofriendly change in their products when this change is minimal. Thus, they give themselves a good image without changing a lot of things. Feel free to compare components of old and new products if you can.

Suggestive Imagery: Many brands design their packaging with green colors or in an eco-friendly style, yet their ingredients or manufacturing methods are not eco-friendly. Sometimes they even put designs that look like certification logos. This is a common greenwashing practice. 

As you have surely understood by now, the main way to fight against greenwashing is to find out about their communication campaigns, the ingredients or the means of manufacturing products used by companies. It is in fact by being informed that we can form a clear and objective opinion. Brands take advantage of our ignorance and know that we don’t always look beyond what they say. It’s time to stop taking their word for it and show them that we know what they are doing by not puchasing their products anymore.

What could we do more?

If you want to change the situation, you can make a claim on the ASA website. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s independent advertising regulator, which “makes sure ads across UK media stick to the advertising rules (the Advertising Codes)”. According to them, marketing statements must be clear, truthful, accurate and should not mislead the consumers about the product’s total environmental impact. If it doesn’t respect the rules, then the ad is withdrawn or amended. Let’s punish those who do greenwashing!

Click here to make a complaint:

Reference:

Noyes, L. (2021, December 31). A Guide to Greenwashing and How to Spot It. EcoWatch. https://www.ecowatch.com/greenwashing-guide-2655331542.html

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