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what on earth is greenwashing?

A Buzzword? Clickbait? Virtue Signalling?
what on earth is greenwashing?
The official definition of greenwashing is that it is designed to make people believe that a company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is. Greenwashing is to corporations what tree hugging is to individuals who say they care about the environment, it’s a symbolic reference that has minimal positive outcomes. Greenwashing could slow our progress towards meeting both climate and social goals. 

Granted, some greenwashing is unintentional and results from a lack of education around what sustainability really is, however, many large corporations spend tonnes of time and money claiming to be ‘green’ through clever PR rather than actually implementing business practises that truly minimise their footprint.

Whilst there may be no such thing as a truly sustainable consumer product, some products definitely have less environmental impact than others.The trendiness of environmentalism is sort of a catch-22, so here’s our top tips to spot Greenwashing from a mile away!

Utopian Imagery
It’s important not to fall into the green visuals trap, idyllic settings, flowers blooming, rolling hills, mountain tops and expansive oceans. The use of natural hues; greens, browns and beiges make it appear that the product is earthy, which automatically makes us assume its eco-friendly, oftentimes, this is virtue signalling at it’s finest.  Don’t fall for the smoke and mirrors!

Tip: Just because it looks the part, doesn’t mean it is actually playing the part. Delve a little deeper, the more we know the easier it is to vote with your dollar.

Vague clickbaity Buzzwords and False Labels
You’ve seen them, ‘All natural,’ ‘non-toxic,’ ‘eco-friendly,’ ‘Save the Earth!’ Often these phrases sound great, yet, upon closer investigation, are devoid of anything even remotely eco-friendly. There are no regulations around using fluffy language and these buzzwords can often be misleading and just downright false, instead, look for official certified third party labels. 

Tip: As member of this big blue dot we call Earth, when purchasing products, do your due diligence, delve into the brand and dig deep, look for facts and details such a transparent supply chain, life cycle analysis of products, environmental impact and wether the eco claims made by the company are  backed by actual evidence.

Sneaky parent company 

Have you ever purchased a product thinking you’re buying something sustainable and eco friendly only to read the fine print and realise it’s actually a product from a large global conglomerate?

As consumers become more savvy and demand companies uphold a certain level of  environmental conscientiousness, large companies are capitalising on this trend. Using clever marketing through idyllic imagery and buzzwords to sell a product we can often be hoodwinked to think these brands are doing the ‘right thing’ when in reality, they are doing the exact opposite.

Tip: Is the product you’re purchasing from an independently owned company or is it part of a big conglomerate corporation? Generally speaking, smaller brands are more motivated to be transparent and to own up to their learnings along the journey. So support small where you can!

Virtue Signalling
A myriad of large corporations draw attention to minor issues without any real meaningful action.

A prime example of this is that a bank may offset its own emissions but ignores the climate impact of its investments or fashion brands donating to a not-for-profit but refusing to address child labour within its supply chain. 

Tip: Find out where your products are manufactured and whether or not the company or brand addresses the issue presented with solutions to tackle the problem. 

Suspect Claims
‘Trust but verify’ why? If you read the fine print on the packaging or visit the product website, you might not be able to find proof of the majority of environmental claims made, and, that’s because almost 30% of companies are laden with greenwashing fodder. If a brand or company is claiming that they are ‘eco-friendly,’ yet cannot prove this through third-party certification, the brand should be willing to provide evidence to substantiate their claims.

Tip: The best way to prove if a company is moving towards greener and cleaner is through third-party certification labels (though, this is also a nuanced topic!)

The ‘Lesser of two evils’ concept 
A company might be claiming to be “greener” than their competitor, but if the industry itself is unsustainable, does this even make a difference? Think plastic bags and most single-use plastic items.

Tip: Ask yourself, ‘Do I really need this product?’

Ok, so where to from here?
It’s not all doom and gloom and there are many companies forging the path to a more sustainable future.  We have the power to change the narrative by voting with our dollar and where we chose to spend it.

Firstly and perhaps most importantly, buy less stuff. Ask yourself at the checkout, Do I really need this? If you already have a grey jumper, do you really need another one? Can you find the same product second hand? 

Do your research and ask questions. Supply chain transparency alone is an effective indicator of whether or not a brand is greenwashing their products. 

If you think a claim made sounds too good to be true, chances are it probably is. An image of a sprawling landscape is hardly going to save the world, don’t be duped by clever marketing tomfoolery. 

At BNB we don’t claim to be perfect, however, as a small business, we are making strides towards being cleaner, greener and more informed. It’s the balancing act of making the switch to new tech yet remaining in the realm of accessibility and affordability. See what we're doing to move toward a greener future!

We work closely with one of our major retailer partners with their circular lifecycle program called BeautyCycle. 

Whilst purchasing products can never truly be green, know your power as a consumer and don’t be afraid to  ask questions and use your voice. As consumers, we need to be more mindful about our purchasing choices. By shopping with intention and shopping slowly, we are poised to buy less and make more informed choices.

Education is power!