The Dark Side of Green Marketing: Greenwashing

The Dark Side of Green Marketing: Greenwashing

The difference between green marketing and greenwashing.

Green marketing is a type of marketing in which a business offer products or services based on legitimate environmental benefits. It is designed to help consumers make better choices which have a positive impact on the planet.  In general, green marketing is practical, honest, and transparent.

Greenwashing, on the other hand, happens when a business shares misleading information about its sustainability initiatives giving consumers the false perception that a products or service has a positive and lasting sustainable impact on the planet when they in fact, they are not.

Identifying the 'Red Flags'

Greenwashing has become a big issue since it plays into the desire of consumers to live green while not necessarily providing a sustainable product. Greenwashing is dishonest because it misleads consumers genuinely interested in environmentally friendly businesses or products. As green products can often command a price premium, it can result in consumers paying more.

There are three common types of greenwashing, and the tactics used often comprise companies emphasising one sustainable aspect of a product.

The use of environmental imagery

This refers to using marketing images of flowers, trees, and beaches allows companies to portray themselves as being more environmentally friendly without actually changing much or anything about it.

Misleading labels and language

Watch out for ambiguous or poorly defined words with broad meanings, such as "eco-friendly". Instead look for specific terms like “reduces, single use plastic”; “fair trade” “100% natural” or “plant-based ingredients”. Before purchasing things, buyers should consider if a company's green marketing activities are legitimate or if it is simply indulging in greenwashing.

Also look out for substantiation on packaging and websites.  Make sure the product is providing scientific proof of claims.

Hidden Tradeoffs

This typically refers to a company's wide claims that a product is environmentally friendly based on a narrow list of criteria. For example, a product that claims to be made from recycled materials and hence environmentally friendly. This is not always correct and does not reflect how much of the final product is made from recycled materials. Furthermore, the true environmental impact of the entire manufacturing process is unknown, making hidden tradeoffs a prominent issue. 

Look for these 'Green' Flags instead!

To avoid being mislead, there are some helpful things to look out for when choosing your green products:

Shop Sustainably. Shop Smart. Shop SimplyGood.

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