The term Greenwashing was coined in the 1980s by environmentalist Jay Westerveld. He used it to describe hotels that encouraged guests to reuse towels to save water while continuing to waste energy in other ways. 

Today, Greenwashing is a term used to describe the act of making misleading or false claims about the environmental benefits of a product or service in order to make it appear more eco-friendly than it really is.

Greenwashing is a common practice in marketing and advertising, as consumers’ concern for the environment is growing, companies are doing their best to capitalize on this. To be clear, it can also be a form of deception, as consumers end up paying extra for a product or service that is not actually as eco friendly as advertised.

Here are some tips on how to avoid greenwashing:

  • Look for third-party certifications: Many products carry certifications from independent organizations that verify their environmental claims. Look for labels like Energy Star, USDA Organic, and Fair Trade Certified, as these certifications indicate that a product has been rigorously tested and meets certain standards.
  • Do your research: Take the time to read up on a product’s environmental claims and investigate the company behind it. Look for information on their sustainability practices, and whether they have a track record of following through on their environmental promises.
  • Beware of vague language: If a product’s environmental claims are vague or unclear, it may be a sign of greenwashing. Look for specific details on how a product is eco-friendly, such as the percentage of recycled content or the type of renewable energy used in production.
  • Don’t be fooled by packaging: Just because a product has a green or eco-friendly label on the packaging, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is environmentally friendly. Many companies use green packaging to make their products appear more eco-friendly than they really are.
  • Consider the whole product lifecycle: A product’s environmental impact doesn’t just come from how it’s made, but also from how it’s used and disposed of. Consider the entire lifecycle of a product before making a purchase, and look for products that are designed for reuse, repair, or recycling.

By being aware of greenwashing and taking the time to research products and companies, consumers can make more informed choices and support businesses that are truly committed to sustainability.

March 20, 2023 — Barbara Chernyukhin