What is Greenwashing? Most people have heard the term by now. However, I thought it might be useful to raise the term and think about what it means for us today.
In a nutshell, Greenwashing is when a company spends more money on making you think it’s being eco-friendly than actually being eco-friendly.
The term “greenwashing” was coined in the 1980s by environmentalist Jay Westerveld to describe outrageous corporate environmental claims. Three decades later, the practice has grown vastly more sophisticated.
A major factor to consider is the effect ethical consumerism can have on corporations. If enough pressure is applied to corporations to become sustainable and environmentally conscious they are often forced to consider how all this negative PR can impact their profit margins. Unfortunately, this does not imply that companies will, overnight, care about our current climate crisis. Instead what is often the case is they will cut corners and sugar coat their facts to appear this way.
“When you’re looking for greenwashing, you always have to look at the surrounding circumstances. If someone’s being forced kicking and screaming to do something good for the environment, they’re going to try and get away with doing the least they can while still adhering to the law.“ www.goingzerowaste.com
Living in a completely sustainable fashion or going fully Zero Waste maybe not always be possible. Small steps though. Packaging free options are available in our Co-op and can be a start along the right track. Ethical consumerism is at the heart of the Dublin Food Co-op and is no.3 in our Core Values. “To promote the rational use of the earth’s resources and in particular to promote the use of ecologically acceptable packaging”. You can view all of our principles here.
Some ways of avoiding falling for the skin deep Greenwashing tricks are:
1. Bypass the Packaging and Read the Label: The packaging and branding do not necessarily represent the products contents.
2. Beware of Branding – It might have an image of a green pasture but that doesn’t mean the product has connection with natural healthy lifestyle.
3. Look for Proof of Green Practices: e.g. Non-GMO Project Verified stamp.
4. Stop Trusting the Slogans: There is very little regulation on slogans so beware of things like “all natural”. Always read the label.
5. Know What Being Green Really Means: Catch phrases like “sustainable” might not factor in plastic packaging etc.