Beware of Greenwashing

Greenwashing is basically misleadingly marketing a product as being eco-friendly when it’s not. This is a serious problem that has taken over many companies and products. Businesses have caught on to the notion that consumers want to purchase eco-friendly products. But, many businesses aren’t willing to give up their low production costs and high pay offs to make a more substantive product. Instead, they fool consumers using the following marketing tactics:

1.) Unsubstantiated Claims

This is tactic is easy to use and very common. Often, companies will market their products as being made with organic products or giving back to the environment in some way. This is common among paper products. Typically, paper products claim they are made with mostly recycled content. Yet when asked for proof, the company can’t provide any reliable information.

2.) Green Tricks

This is another common tactic. Typically, companies will use materials or practices that are slightly less harmful than the ones they used before. This allows them to market their products as green and eco-friendly. But in reality, they are only a little bit better than before. For example, many sandwich bag companies have marketed their use of less plastic than before. While that is a great step, they shouldn’t be able to market their product as green if it still uses majority of an environmentally harmful material.

3.) Tradeoffs

This the hardest, yet most environmentally, tactic to identify. Basically, a company trades environmental welfare to call their product green. For example, something might be marketed as being green and free of any potential toxins it usually would be, but there’s a strong possibility that it came from a previously untouched forest.

4.) Irrelevancy

If a product claims to be free of something, you should always research the laws and regulations of whatever that ‘something’ is. For example, let’s say you purchase a product that claimed to be “CFC-free”. You might have noticed that other products don’t market being CFC-free, so you pick the product that markets this. In reality, laws have banned CFCs since the late 1990s. Thus, companies are marketing something irrelevant in attempt to persuade you to purchase their product over other products.

5.) Misleading Labels

Out of all the tactics, this is the most common. Companies regularly use shades of green on their labels, as well as depict scenes of nature and naturalistic elements in an attempt to catch your eye and mislead you to believing their product is green. Also, companies use certain words, such as bio, eco, and green, to deceive you. Instead of purchasing a product just because it “looks environmentally friendly”, read the ingredients and do your research!