Renewed Collective

Are you being greenwashed?

It’s cool to be green, and now everyone is jumping onboard. What happens when companies appear to be doing the right thing, but aren’t? Greenwashing is a huge issue and everyone deserves a right to know what’s going on.

What is greenwashing?

‘Greenwashing is a form of spin, in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organisation’s products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly. Greenwashing efforts can range from changing the name or label of a product to evoke the natural environment on a product that contains harmful chemicals, to multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns portraying highly polluting energy companies as eco-friendly.’ – Wikipedia

As people become more conscious about the environment, ‘green living’ has become such a huge trend. So when a consumer’s needs change, businesses need to adapt to this change and ultimately deliver what their customers want. 

How are we being greenwashed?

Problems arise when companies aim to seem eco-friendly instead of aiming to be eco-friendly. They might invest more in the marketing process, rather than attempt to improve their products or processes, or contribute towards the preservation and restoration of our environment.

Unethical marketing practices not only directly affect the companies producing them, but also the smaller, local businesses who are genuinely eco-friendly brands. Creating confusion in the market can cause consumers to lose trust in labels.

Packaging with natural look to show example of greenwashing

Ways to avoid greenwashing

Certifications are helping determine which companies are genuine and which ones are just claiming to be. Labels stating ‘organic’ and ‘certified organic’ are different. When it comes to food and cosmetics, being certified organic means the product has been scrutinised by a third party. In Australia the government has an Organic and Biodiversity Standard by which companies must comply with to receive organic certification.  

The standard currently gives authority to 7 certification bodies in Australia, who administer organic certification using the national organic standard guidelines. The organic certification bodies are; NASAA, Australian Certified Organic (ACO), Organic Food Chain, Bio-Dynamic Research Institute, AUS-QUAL, Safe Food QLD and Tasmanian Organic-Dynamic Producers (TOP).

By using unbiased third party certifications, consumers can know that the products have met stringent criteria to be able to display the relevant award or logo on the label. Other third party assessments to look out for include; Fairtrade, GreenSeal, GREENGUARD, OEKO-TEX standard, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and B Corporation Certification.

It’s time to spread the word about greenwashing

It is up to us, the consumer, to get educated about who is truly green, and who is just trying to look that way. We need to look beyond the advertising campaigns, and read ingredient lists, or ask employees about their company’s environmental commitment. Support brands with detailed information on their website about their sustainability efforts and environmentally friendly processes.

How we choose to spend our money matters. 

We can choose who we support.

We can make a difference.

Browse our Eco Directory for companies who deserve our support.

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