It’s great to see brands prioritising sustainable initiatives, but how much of it is true? As consumers become more conscious of their impact, they seek to purchase from companies that align with their green values, which is why in recent years, we have seen an increase in green propaganda. Words like “Sustainable”, “Eco-friendly” and “Carbon-Neutral” have become more popular in advertisements, but how can we know if a brand is truly working towards saving our planet?
Greenwashing is defined as misleading consumers into believing a product or company is more environmentally friendly than it actually is. As consumers, we have the power to hold brands accountable and call out any irregularity. Here are five ways to verify if your favourite brand is really committing to sustainability or rather greenwashing:
1. Are they certified? This is a great ethical shopping tool, that allows credible organisations to regulate whether or not the business complies with sustainable standards. I’d like to note that not all certifications are equally reliable. This article is a great resource that helps you understand which you can trust and why; https://ethical.net/guide/sustainability-certifications-which-can-you-trust/
2. What does the company’s past looks like? Have they always been passionate about supporting a certain cause or saving the planet? Change is always good, but change needs to happen gradually by acknowledging past mistakes and show commitment for future changes. Which leads us to how to communicate and effectively commit too change…
3. Actions speak louder than words! Does the business have evidence of their sustainable actions? What makes their product sustainable? If they can’t prove their sustainability efforts, it’s a red flag. Many times, businesses will tend to highlight their certification especially in the world of sustainability, as a way to stand out from the greenwashing competitors.
4. What are other people saying about the company? There are plenty of bloggers, YouTubers, and sustainability fanatics that dedicate their time to researching companies, so you don’t have to. A quick google search will lead you to reviews of brands an d products that will deliver sometimes unbiased experiences and facts.
5. Remember that ‘Clean’ or ‘Sustainable’ are words used by many so it is good to learn and understand how and when they are sued.“Cruelty-free” is not the same as “Vegan” and “Natural doesn’t mean “Eco-friendly”. Companies are counting on the fact that consumers assume they all mean the same thing, but in fact, there is a big difference.
The world of sustainability is not as straightforward as we’d like for it to be but as Emma Watson said; “As consumers, we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy”.