Zero Waste Shanghai
GREENWASHING: How to Recognize False Promises
When we talk about choosing a green brand or product, we need to pay extra care to what is really hiding behind that term.
Nowadays, more than in the past, consumers tend to be more attentive to their decision when coming to selecting a brand. They rather prefer a brand that reliably shows its commitment to the environmental cause.
And brands know that therefore, sometimes we can face cases of greenwashing, which is what we are going to analyze today.
What is greenwashing?
Greenwashing is a term used to define companies who advertise themselves as environmentally friendly when in reality they are doing great harm to the planet. By using vague terms that do not properly define the process behind their eco-friendly actions, companies deceive consumers into thinking their choices contribute to protecting the environment.
The term first emerged in the mid-1980s in the US when Chevron released its “The People Do” campaign that displayed its employees protecting animals such as bears, butterflies, and sea turtles. In reality, Chevron was in violation of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
During this time, consumers did not have the luxury we have today to fact-check companies and confirm the positive impact they are claiming to have. But it is a power that we do have today to determine whether the information we are given is true or if the company is distorting our perception of their actions.
How to avoid buying green-washed products?
The best way to avoid this phenomenon is by being alert to the advertising and marketing you experience during your day-to-day. Our responsibility as consumers is to take the information we are given and dissect it to ensure we are not being misled. Here are some ways you can avoid being deceived by greenwashing:
Do your homework. Before buying a “green” product, do some digging online into the brand you are planning to buy from. The transparent companies will have a section on their site explaining how they are ethically sourcing their materials and why their production process is environmentally friendly.
Transparency is key. A good tip to remember during your research is if the company is being transparent with its practices then it most likely means its “eco-friendly” claims are accurate. Despite how much you can trust in the brand name, it is always helpful to double-check.
Talk is cheap. A company can make many claims on the changes they are planning to or are implementing, however, if they do not go into detail on their actions to make these changes then their claims hold no value. Whenever you see a brand making a claim to bring systemic change to the industry, look for the details on how the company is really trying to comply with those improvements.
Look out for labels. There are ecolabels in China that do all the research for you and ensure the products it assigns its labels to are produced in an eco-friendly manner. The main ones in China are the green label and the organic label.
Shop locally. For fresh produce, it is best to buy from local producers who do not have millions to spend on marketing and advertising to potentially deceive you. Their products are all seasonal, which means there is less pollution admitted to the transport of non-seasonal produce imported from other areas. Many local producers also do not use pesticides and herbicides that are not only chemicals dangerous for consumption but also harmful to the land.
Don’t worry, unfortunately, it happens to everyone to be conquered by some disappointing promises, in life, and in marketing!
We will keep doing research for green products and brands always with our wide open.
And with your suggestion, of course!
If you have any brand or product to recommend, leave a comment here below, we are always glad to share and exchange tips with you guys!