A Toxic Environmental “Cleanser” – Greenwashing

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  • Jun 27, 2022

As the world continues to move towards a more sustainable future, large companies are following suit in instilling a “green” mindset in their employees, as well as adopting practices that are more environmentally friendly. While this is all well and good, the reality is that some of these practices may mislead consumers, like you and I, to believe that their actions are less damaging to the environment. In fact, many big brands have been found guilty, mostly unintentionally, of marketing their so-called “green” products when they are not. This is known as greenwashing, a less-heard term compared to its counterpart, brainwashing, yet it’s still a pretty serious problem.

A recent example of greenwashing that may have fallen under the radar is Nestle’s handling of plastic waste. Nestle pledged that by 2025, all their product packaging would be reusable or recyclable. A very ambitious target that many of us would get behind! Unfortunately, it appears that instead of reducing plastic use, Nestle has decided to burn the plastic waste instead. Indeed, they are reducing plastic but at the cost of harming the environment and the wildlife in the vicinity. Come on, Nestle!

Now that we know what greenwashing is, I thought it would be good to dive into how to spot greenwashing and run from it. Things to look out for:

  • - Vague words and false claims – some food companies may claim to sell organic vegetables but perhaps only a part of the production is organic. It is up to us to sieve through the many different brands to reduce the chances of falling prey to false claims.
  • - Use of “green” buzzwords – see too many “green” words? Tread carefully as companies may exaggerate their sustainable work to entice customers to buy their products.
  • - Hiding information – perhaps some of the production factories are doing huge damage to the environment but nothing is said about them on their website. Sometimes, not saying a thing is worse.

Yes, we don’t actually know what’s going on during the manufacturing process or how the products are brought to the store. But fret not for I have 2 simple ways that we can use to prevent being greenwashed (okay they may not look that easy but they are the easiest I could find).

Check not once but twice!

Seen a piece of news about a “green” product and not sure if you can trust that company? Check out any established news outlet or government websites if they are collaborating with government agencies. Furthermore, we should utilize our curious minds and keep asking ourselves the right questions as to how these products came about. Don’t settle for less than what will satisfy you as this reduces the chance of being misled into buying a product.

Recyclable or not?

Possibly the easier of the 2 methods and very beginner-friendly – you just have to determine if the items are really recyclable. 1 quick tip: NEA has an interactive website that allows you to see what materials and items are recyclable, making our lives that much easier!

Greenwashing is indeed problematic and companies may or may not realise they are committing but we can all do our part to reduce its harmful effects! Even if you are new to the eco-world, don’t worry too much about what “green” steps you have missed out on, instead look forward to what you can do from now on! Every little step counts!

#greenwashing #stopgreenwashing #sustainability #sustainablefuture