Greenwashing - I bet it fooled you too!

Have you fallen for green washing in the past?

So many companies have been greenwashing their products it’s embarrassing.  I’ve fallen for this and I bet you have as well.  You’re looking at ALL the options on the store shelves and you see something that looks more environmentally friendly or perhaps without chemicals.  Later, you find it’s not at all what the label claims.  This greenwashing is a marketing tactic that large corporations like Coca-Cola or Unilever use to capitalize on a consumer’s desire to make more sustainable choices.  

What terminology is used in greenwashing?

Unfortunately, not all terminology used on product labeling or in product marketing is regulated. That means that when it comes to certain words, like “natural” or “biodegradable,” companies do not need to explain or provide scientific proof that they are true.  Honestly, greenwashing’s primary goal is to misdirect the consumer. The intention is to convince someone that a product is sustainable without being held accountable.

Here's an example:

Well, this hit my home when it came to laundry detergent.  I fell for the trick.  I saw the brand name and thought it would be a better alternative.  Seventh Generation.  The name itself is a greenwashing tactic.  ​​The brand Seventh-Generation promises stewardship claiming to “nurture the health of the next seven generations.”  Sounds like a great company to support, right?  The problem comes with their single-use packaging.  For instance, while Seventh Generation diapers do use sustainably sourced materials, the diapers and baby wipes are not biodegradable.

Here's a commonly used greenwash phrase

Another commonly used phrase on greenwashed products is “up to 100% recycled materials used.” When reading this, it makes the consumer feel good because there’s a claim that the product uses recycled materials. But since the company put the words “up to” in front of their statistical claim, they do not need to be held accountable for how much their packaging is actually post-consumer recycled materials, if any at all. 

Greenwashing is used as a marketing trick

So ultimately, the problem is that “greenwashed” products are simply marketed as more environmentally friendly without actually being any better for the environment. Unfortunately, greenwashing is an effective marketing strategy, and that means it isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. The good news is that consumers still have some choice in the matter. While a lot of the control lies within the hands of the companies making the products, consumers can push for better, more environmentally-conscious practices.  I want to keep sharing with you information about the top 6 chemicals found in most on-the-shelf products.  

Keep your eyes open while shopping and hopefully you’ll find this information helpful as you make informed decisions while you shop!  Watch for my next blog post series where I'll share with you the top NASTY checmicals to stay away from!  


1 comment

  • Kind of like the use of the word “natural” on so many foods has actually come to mean pretty much nothing.

    Marcia Homer

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