How To See If A Brand Is Greenwashing
by Natashya Khoo on Jan 13, 2022
It has become increasingly important for corporations to be eco conscious, especially in a world where consumerism has led to irreversible damage to our ecosystem. Whole forests have been wiped out for the land needed to keep up the demand for fast moving goods.
The greenhouse gases emitted by companies to produce and transport products have continued to increase year after year. Also, the increase of online shopping and deliveries has created more waste than ever before, causing mass pollution to our oceans.
Because of this, some companies have made great strides to incorporate greener practices into their operations. Conscious consumers are also moving their support towards eco-friendlier brands. Unfortunately, this has led to greenwashing, which is when a brand makes itself appear more environmentally friendly than it actually is.
In Malaysia, greenwashing (also known as green marketing) isn’t illegal in and of itself, but is in the vein of providing misleading information to the consumer. It is also unethical whereby a brand attempts to make profit out of a message that they do not practice.
Here are some simple ways to identify if your favourite brands are greenwashing:
1. Vague messaging
Look out for words like ‘eco-friendly’, ‘sustainable’, ‘recyclable’, ‘natural/vegan’... as long as a word is vague with no additional information, that could be a sign that the brand is greenwashing.
Do some research into what exactly the company is doing to be eco-friendly. The practices should be clear-cut, defined, and seen through the supply chain.
2. Read into their claims
Be aware of companies emphasising on only a few areas of sustainability. For instance, they might claim zero waste offerings, but deliver their products in plastic.
While some sustainable practices take longer to implement than others, check back with their claims and weigh them against what you see. To go one step deeper, a quick email or DM to the brand helps too!
3. Research the ‘facts’
To boost credibility, sometimes brands put out statistics on climate change, pollution or other environmental issues to help support their messaging. However, check if these facts link back to the green initiatives by the brand.
Also, check if the facts are true- you’ll be amazed at the facts you’ll find with a quick Google search, and how they contrast with a brand you suspect is greenwashing.
4. Vague imagery
Like vague messaging, look at the pictures being displayed as the brand’s marketing. This might be a small thing to look out for, but a brand that is truly dedicated to sustainability will have the pictures to prove it.
Look out for corporations that use vague images of trees and oceans instead of actual, on-ground imagery.
It’s not about doing it perfectly, but it’s about being honest. Let’s all do better, LIVLOLA fam!