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Unmasking deceptive greenwashing and environmental claims

by Lorna Wright

September 19, 2023

Recent decades have reflected a growing societal desire to pursue ecological lifestyles and minimise environmental harm.

Further still, consumers are increasingly placing their business with brands and seeking out products that they believe are actively making a positive contribution to the planet.

Recognising this trend, many companies have been swift to capitalise on this growing consumer demand for eco-friendly products. However, a deceptive practice known as “greenwashing” has developed on the back of the resultant surge in green marketing…

What is greenwashing?

Greenwashing is the act of misleading consumers by making false or overstated environmental claims in hopes to win over the eco-conscious customer, while undermining authentic efforts towards sustainability. Untrustworthy claims made by greenwashing brands divert attention and resources away from authentic sustainable activities, creating a negative impact on both consumers and the environment.

Consumer aware – company beware

Consumers are becoming ever more vigilant and critically analyse environmental claims made by companies to avoid falling victim to greenwashing. They do this by being able to pinpoint vague terminology or lack of certifications to authenticate company claims.

Companies that actively pursue sustainability are more likely to be fully transparent with their customers and consumers by sharing and celebrating their efforts through data, recognised third-party certifications such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or EcoVadis, they are more likely to provide regular updates on their environmental goals, sharing and boasting of their achievements.

Therefore, customers and consumers are becoming increasingly observant to the absence of transparency by brands and making more conscious decisions on where to shop. As the momentum behind greenwashing increases improved guidelines and procedures by governments and regulatory bodies are needed to hold dishonest businesses accountable.

Most importantly for the customer and the environment, companies should be accountable for their corporate responsibility. They can do this by investing in eco-friendly initiatives and providing transparent, up-to-date, accurate information to consumers to help build consumer trust.

Transparency and eco-labelling

It is important to the customer and the environment, that companies are accountable for their corporate responsibility. They can do this by investing in eco-friendly initiatives and providing transparent, up-to-date, accurate information to consumers to help build consumer trust.

Clear communication and avoiding misleading or vague claims.Keeping up to date. Sharing goals and updates and staying transparent when we lose track or targets are not being met – explaining why and provide a new plan of action.Seeking third-party independent verification to validate environmental claims.Educating employees to enable more environmentally conscious decisions and taking accountability.Ensuring sustainable practices are inherent in a company’s DNA rather than just a marketing slogan

Through collective efforts by companies, consumers, and the government, we can uncover greenwashing practices and encourage a shift towards genuine sustainability, safeguarding our planet for future generations. Combating greenwashing requires collective action from consumers, regulatory bodies, and responsible businesses, beginning with consumer education, learning about greenwashing practices and recognising accredited certifications, we can enable everyone to make informed choices.

You can request our visual PDF of the Unmasking deceptive greenwashing on our website.