Greenwashing is a false advertisement technique used to convince consumers that products and services are environmentally safe and sound, when really they are not. Within the realm of greenwashing, there are “seven sins” discussed. TerraChoice says these include, “the sin of hidden trade-off, the sin of no proof, the sin of vagueness, the sin of irrelevance, the sin of fibbing, the sin of lesser of two evils, and the sin of worshiping false labels.” I have explained three of them below.
Some businesses commit this fraud by making claims about “green” practices, when really 99 percent of the company is not about taking care of the environment. Others display advertisements in newspapers or magazines, again making false and misleading statements about their environmental stewardship.
Another way businesses greenwash is via their labels. Some companies will use deceptive labels with statements from supposedly accredited companies to support these false “green” campaigns. The truth is, these companies are simply advertising their “green” efforts to stay up with the times—even though in reality, they have no intentions of going “green.”
A further example of greenwashing is the promotion of irrelevance. Companies will throw a term on a product that has nothing to do with the product. For example, companies will say something is CFC-free, even though these were banned some time ago. This obviously does not matter, because every product on the market is supposed to be this way.
Why does greenwashing matter?
Greenwashing hurts other businesses, which work to promote a more “green” world. They bring down credibility within an industry and make consumers distrust them.
Moreover, greenwashing is dishonest. Falsifying information is a big deal, and stands against everything in this nation. It infringes on the public’s right to know what they are purchasing and where it came from and how it was produced.
How can individuals decipher between legitimate “green” companies and others, which greenwash?
As I have stated in other articles, “knowledge is power.” Before purchasing products or services do some research. If a company is claiming to have a “green” platform and references comments from unknown sources, investigate those sources. Find out who is being quoted. Look up information about the company on the Internet or with the Better Business Bureau. See if claims have been made against the company, and read about the company’s efforts from others and its evidence to back up its “green” campaign. By evidence, I’m talking about numbers. How much has the company contributed to its “green” efforts? Did the company actually follow through with what it said it would do or did it cut funding after running the particular campaign? Research operations and how a company runs its facilities. All of these things can be found on the Internet. Further, individuals can look for truth via other viable companies. If a sound, established, known-to-be honest company is promoting said company’s “green” efforts, it’s probably true. Also, many times reputable sources will provide a listing of “green” companies. See where the company ranks.
If individuals care enough about promoting the environment, researching out things a little bit will not be that big of a deal. If something seems uneasy or sketchy about a company, go with a different business. Don’t trust the label on the box, and report something if false advertising is discovered.