To understand how brands are distorting eco eco values ​​for big business

We have all seen it: products that claim to be ‘sustainable’, ‘carbon neutral’ or ‘environmentally friendly’. But when can a seemingly positive policy actually be a bad thing? This is where the green wash comes in and it’s something we need to get out of.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, searches for ‘sustainable’ goods have increased by 71% since 2016, and as awareness of our individual impact on the planet grows, the public is putting more emphasis on corporations doing their job. also. While this growing pressure may have spurred some legitimately positive steps in businesses, for others, scrutiny has led to an increase in ‘greenwashing’, the KAA easy way.

Instead of choosing to transform their entire business in order to reduce pollution, these companies put their money behind marketing campaigns that aim to portray themselves and their products as more environmentally friendly than they actually are.

While the phrase was coined in the 1980s by environmentalist Jay Westerveld, it has gained traction in recent years as more and more people are seeing it evolve, with companies using the idea of ​​being environmentally conscious as a marketing ploy to gain customers and their trust. , while, in reality, their efforts to be more sustainable may be sincerely lacking. In fact, it is style over substance; saying how important environmental values ​​are, without actually doing the right work to support it and take action.

What does green bathing look like in the real world?

You’ll no doubt have seen it, even if it flew under your radar – perhaps with fast fashion brands whose supposed promises of durability could not hold water, or the airline with deceptive claims of ‘low emissions’ .

But some of the most infamous examples can be seen in a L’Oreal campaign from 2019, which sparked controversy over the claim that its range is ‘vegan’, while continuing to conduct animal testing in markets like China. Or the famous renaming of BP in 2000 to ‘Beyond Petroleum’, changing its logo to a green and yellow sunflower and vowing to invest in renewable energy. However, by 2018, clean energy received only 3% of the company’s investment.

What are the consequences?

Simply put, green washing stops real actions from happening. Creates this misleading perception that businesses are tackling climate change when they are not. If it ‘looks’ like there is progress, pressure to reduce pollution, or to address production, resources, etc. is facilitated and nothing really changes. We are at a critical juncture in tackling climate change and this false front of environmental action can either delay or stop companies from being held really accountable for their impact on the planet.

How to distinguish green bath

False allegations or lack of evidence

The Advertising Standards Authority is wary of this: when products or services talk about a big game, a key sign that everything is talking is when the brands behind them offer no evidence to support it.

Collect words and visuals

Advertising can focus on languages ​​like ‘sustainable’, ‘green’ and ‘eco’ to present a product and entice you with healthy natural images, without scientific evidence to support it. They may even have ‘green’ versions of products as a marketing ploy.

Symbolic gestures

Speaking of tricks, some companies focus their eco-advertising energies on a portion of their offerings – for example a ‘sustainable clothing collection’ – to hide or distract from the fact that change is not happening in it. the whole board.

Compensation only

Carbon offset is balancing the emissions you create, usually by paying in an initiative that removes an equal amount from the atmosphere. While this sounds positive, companies can abuse the system, either by miscalculating emissions, or by claiming that they are meeting certain eco targets, without actually trying to reduce their greenhouse gas production in the first place.

Vague explanations

If a company is making real efforts and fulfilling environmental promises, it should be able to provide specific details. Extensive explanations can lead to misunderstandings, or misinterpretations, e.g. saying that a product is recyclable when it is only a part of it.

What can you do about it?

Ultimately, governments need to take action to ensure that big businesses do not shy away from fraudulent claims or evade their environmental responsibilities. But the good news is that we can still leave our mark. When you notice signs of green washing, call it. Comment on ads or ask brands for unfounded claims. You can sign petitions and have your say by contacting local council representatives and voting where possible.

We can also use our power as consumers; let your money speak. Spend it with companies that are really trying to make a difference and tell those who clean the green that they should actually get their hands dirty if they want to impress you.

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