"Sustainability" has long been part of the consumer lexicon, and is even a priority for many. But with the growth of the "green" culture, examples of greenwashing have also multiplied in an attempt to attract a more environmentally conscious clientele, whether through misleading claims about practices and products, branding, or certifications.
Learn about some of the most common types of greenwashing:
Hidden Trade-off - hiding environmental impacts:
In this type of greenwashing, companies tend to promote a single ecological aspect of a product, ignoring the other environmental impacts in various areas. For example, brands claim to be "environmentally friendly" because their products require low energy consumption, but the use of non-recyclable materials is ignored.
Lack of evidence:
One of the most common examples of greenwashing is claiming certain environmental virtues without providing concrete evidence to back up these claims. Whenever a product is labeled "100% ecological" without documentation or certification to prove it, we are dealing with deceptive marketing.
Imprecise or ambiguous language:
Many companies use ambiguous or imprecise language to try to appear more environmentally friendly. Examples of greenwashing in this category include descriptions of products as "natural" without clarifying which ingredients are used, or "ethically sourced" - which is a vague term.
In an attempt to create the illusion of meeting environmental standards, some companies resort to using "third party" certifications and logos, which are in fact fake. Be careful not to confuse a certification seal from a company's own environmental program with those made by recognized entities in the market.
The lesser of two evils:
This is an attempt to deceive the consumer into believing that they are consuming a product that does them less harm and harms nature less than another competing product, but which nevertheless continues to do harm to both. For example, in the sale of insecticides and pesticides - even if the information is not false, none of it is truly sustainable.
These examples of greenwashing help consumers protect themselves against deceptive practices and make more informed choices. Transparency, verification of certifications and research are essential tools for distinguishing between companies that are genuinely committed to sustainability and those that are only seeking a superficial "green" image.