GREENWASHING : A DECEITFUL MARKETING GIMMICK
~ Ravleen Kaur and Parina Kaur
A spin on the phrase "whitewashing" is "greenwashing". Undoubtedly, whitewashing has been discussed at least once in the context of business. When an institution presents a skewed version of the facts, it engages in "whitewashing", which is the deliberate concealment or glossing over of scandalous material. However, greenwashing isn't as widely known.
Greenwashing is the practice of a firm putting more time and money into promoting itself as environmentally benign than into actually decreasing its environmental impact. It's a dishonest marketing ploy used to trick consumers who prefer to buy products and services from businesses that value the environment.
Buzzwords like "natural", "sustainable", and "green" are frequently found on the labels of everything we consume, including food and clothing. We must, however, consider whether companies who are paying attention are actually supporting conscientious brands or are merely "acting" on sustainability.
One of the main offenders of this misconduct has been the fast fashion business. They have frequently been discovered to sell using the climate problem without actually changing their business model. Greenwashing in the fashion industry is on the rise, making it challenging for people to determine whether they are consuming sustainably or are dependent on deceptive methods.
The biggest flaw in sustainability is that it lacks a precise, quantifiable definition. "Ethical" and "eco-friendly" are only words with no legal value. This pushes fashion brands to act irresponsibly.
Another obstacle is the lack of empirical evidence and government-funded studies on the effects of fashion. Inadequate public knowledge and education about the detrimental practices the industry embraces, which permits businesses to continue spreading false information, is another factor contributing to greenwashing.
Unfortunately, this strategy is not only employed by food companies, cosmetics or fashion but also by financial firms. Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank , HSBC, Bank of China and several other companies assert that they invest in sustainable possibilities. But, according to the 2020 research by the Rainforest Action Network, these banks continue to provide sizable capital loans to the most polluting industries that are the biggest sources of deforestation and fossil carbon emissions.
Forms of greenwashing -
1. Environmental Imageries
Using images of elements which are typically associated with nature and sustainability such as excessively using the color green, putting leaves, plants, animals, Earth and other similar symbols are all ways of classic greenwashing whereas genuinely eco-friendly products generally use simpler images and plain packaging.
2. Deceptive or Misleading labels
Certain products are given specific labels to create an impression of green products such as “100% recyclable”, “carbon-neutral”, “Certified”, “naturally sourced”, etc. without any evidence to prove the same. They could just have labeled or declared themselves eco-friendly and marketed their products as so.
3. Hidden trade-offs
Corporations can put up an act of being environmentally friendly and sustainable and they may even have eco-friendly practices but have a very environmentally irresponsible trade-off.
4. Irrelevant Claims
Sometimes, we may see labels that say they are free of certain chemicals and substances. The substance might be banned by the law which makes it irrelevant to advertise as going green. They may also be claiming to use environmentally friendly materials as a green initiative even when it has been made compulsory by law.
5. Lesser of two evils
A lot of times organizations claim to be producing less waste by making the products recyclable or using eco-friendly material in the packaging when they are producing large amounts of waste and releasing harmful gasses into the environment, a huge part of which will never actually be recycled.
Let's briefly revisit H&M and its purportedly environmentally friendly Garment Collection Program. The issue isn't with its well-known reuse and recycles strategy, but rather with the reality that fast-fashion companies like H&M contribute to the issue. large in size at that. What is the most effective strategy to lessen textile waste and ensure that you are not accountable for the damage it causes to our environment? By acquiring fewer garments. Perhaps fewer items all around. The cycle continues endlessly when you drop off a bag of old clothing at the closest store, pick up a coupon, shop some more, and now you have more clothing. It goes without saying that the Swedish fashion powerhouse still has a long way to go.
The cycle continues endlessly when you drop off a bag of old clothing at the closest store, pick up a coupon, shop some more, and now you have more clothing.
Another big example of greenwashing would be that of Coca-Cola. According to a report, Coca-Cola has spent millions on advertising an innovation where it claims that its bottles contain 25 per cent marine plastic, but what it does not disclose is the fact that it is the largest producer of plastic pollution in the world.
According to the Break Free From Plastic brand audit, the Coca-Cola Company is the world’s worst corporate plastic polluter for the fourth time in a row.
Tips to spot greenwashing
Beware of green packaging
Customers must be aware of the Green Trap phenomenon. The green graphics trap is when businesses try to deceive customers by using images of blossoming flowers, trees, or eco-friendly branding. Green is frequently utilized to create the appearance of environmental friendliness. As consumers grow more conscious of sustainable practices, businesses are employing the color green in their packaging without truly reducing their environmental impact. Green is used to conjure nature, the environment, and ecology.
Be wary of false environmental labels.
Given that they can be challenging to verify, labels are frequently used to deceive people. Some companies design their labels and claim that they are ecologically friendly. These labels don't, however, have any legal standing. Similar to how little green logos might be mistaken for official eco-labels, a green leaf or a green dot on a product does not necessarily imply that it is a part of a sustainable development strategy
Join Life tags from Zara claim that "ecologically cultivated cotton" is used, however, they provide no certificates to support this assertion.
The EU Flower, the official EU Ecolabel, and the EU Organic Label are some examples of green labels that promise a minimal impact on the environment.
Personal emissions are not very significant, and the top 100 firms in the world are in charge of 71% of all emissions worldwide. We require fundamental, almost unheard-of adjustments in our economic and consumption structures.
The entire way that industries operate, from the process of production to the process of selling their goods, needs to be changed. The world is dying, and we don't have much time. It might seem radical and unachievable. Yes, the idea and the thought of changing anything about how we currently live sound awful. But in this race against time, a drastic systemic change may be the difference between success and failure. What course of action would you take if a catastrophe of our creation was about to strike?