Going green is a trend that’s been growing in the past few years. Since COVID-19 came into our lives more and more people have opted to make changes in their daily lives to become more sustainable. The general public is growing more concerned about global warming and the state of the environment, each time more and more corporations are adopting sustainable practices, but don’t be fooled! Just because companies have an image of being sustainable doesn’t mean this is true, this is known as “greenwashing”.
Morgan’s Rock - Nicaragua
What is greenwashing?
Greenwashing is a term that has become popular over the years. It is a communication and marketing strategy used by companies or other organizations where they mislead consumers by claiming to be eco-friendly in order to force an ecologically responsible image among the public. Often, these industries spend more money making themselves appear sustainable than they do implementing actual sustainable practices into their company, doing it for appearances’ sake.
According to the Green Gauge 2021 Report, marketing studies show that 78% of Americans believe companies should be environmentally responsible and 64% say they feel happy when buying sustainable products. This inspires companies to make greener products, but some respond to that information with, “let’s don’t and say we did”. Greenwashing takes advantage of well-intentioned customers who want to become more sustainable when buying products in an effort to fight pollution or climate change.
Mas Salagros - Spain
You could argue that a company's motivations don't matter as long as their actions are productive. If businesses do the right thing for the wrong reasons, it may be acceptable, but what about those that only appear to do what's right? Some corporations may be giving off the idea of sustainability while actively harming the environment, that’s why it’s important to learn to spot greenwashing!
How can you identify greenwashing?
Be careful! It is not that easy to identify greenwashing so you need to be alert, we will provide you with a quick guide in order to make it easier for you to identify it.
- When buying food don’t focus on words like “all-natural” or “eco-friendly”, this tells you nothing, you need to look beyond. Look out for approved seals such as USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project, Fair Trade Certified, and Rainforest Alliance Certified.
- Research companies before buying their products and read the food labels. One of the most popular greenwashing techniques is putting images in their products that will play with your subconscious. These images might include forests, mountains, animals etc. implying that they are beneficial to wildlife, but don’t fall for these tactics and do your research!
- Lack of transparency; Most ethical and sustainable brands are proud of their core values and will dedicate an entire section of their website to explaining their practices and standards.
Tierra Hotels - Chile
Unfortunately, as people continue buying greenwashing products, companies will believe they can keep up the facade of sustainability without having to do the real thing. Instead of buying these products, research brands that are actually dedicated to upholding environmentalist practices. Other more eco-friendly alternatives include buying fewer products overall, making homemade supplies and buying secondhand. When deciding to buy new, research small businesses that talk about their sustainable practices on their websites.
As greenwashing gains more awareness among consumers, it is important to be constantly informed of this phenomenon and be careful and more mindful when selecting products and brands! EHR bases its sustainability criteria on 12 pillars carefully created to be completely transparent and generate a positive impact in our environment.