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Be a smart consumer, avoid greenwashing!

Greenwashing is used to describe green marketing or PR that is used in a deceptive way to wrongfully promote the perception that a company’s policies, purpose and products are environmentally friendly, even when this isn’t the case. Take a simple example, a supermarket runs a huge campaign about how green they are because they recycle plastic bags. They think they are doing the right “green” things by taking more plastic bags and recycling them. However, they are encouraging a non-eco-friendly habit.

Greenwashing can range from designing product labels in such a way that consumers don’t notice when information on harmful chemicals or processes is missing, to massive campaigns portraying companies as environmentally friendly brands. In other words, when a company spends more resources on claiming to be environmentally friendly and advertising this fact than actually working on ways to minimize environmental impact, it’s referred to as greenwashing.

Indeed, greenwashing does cause some dangers and negative consequences. Demanding for environmentally friendly products has created a disingenuous marketing approach to position products as “green” without any substantive, or grossly overstated, environmental benefits. Vague, unsubstantiated, misleading, confusing, false or deceptive claims disadvantage everyone.

Companies and consumers may get so engrossed in the politics of greenwashing and lost sight on the actual environment that’s being harmed. Consumers should not be taken advantage when it comes to paying for a service or product.. For example, one company claims that they use eco-friendly products to reduce the harm of the environment but that’s not the truth. It creates distrust and reduce customer confidence in legitimate environmental benefits, disadvantage ethical traders, and promote the use of toxic and harmful substances. Consumers may lose their trust in a service or product if they are misled by companies. The damage to the business reputation is far worse than just making an effort to be environmentally friendly to begin with.

As consumers, here are the tips for you to avoid greenwashing. One of the greenest things we can all do is to buy fewer things and make as many products as you can at home. Many cleaning products and cosmetics are easy to make. They work great and you can be sure you know exactly what ingredients you’re wiping over every single surface in your home.

Don’t believe in first impressions. It’s important to take a closer look on packaging and advertising materials because the name of the company and product, the infographics and the endorsements could be creating a false impression. Try to look for third party certifications on packaging which will be front and center on a product’s package. Moreover, when you choose the company, look for the truly sustainable and transparent one. They will show how exactly they help, how much money they invest, who they are, including members and collaborators, where specifically your dollars will go, and how to easily get in touch with them.

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