More and more brands are labeling their collections as green and sustainable, but it is not uncommon for them to be just hot air - this is how you can recognize greenwashing
Author: Ilka Bröskamp
More and more brands and companies are labeling their collections as “sustainable”, “fair”, “sustainable” or “environmentally conscious”. Too often, however, there is little more to these terms than a simple marketing strategy: greenwashing. But what is greenwashing, how can it be recognized and what are the typical pitfalls.
What is greenwashing anyway?
Put simply, greenwashing is a marketing strategy that companies use to proclaim themselves or their goods as sustainable, even though this does not apply to their business practices. Decorating with bold slogans that suggest sustainability, without that Brands ethical and complying with environmentally friendly standards is a typical form of greenwashing. This is intended to improve the image and increase sales.
Identifying sustainable products as such is therefore often not that easy for consumers. Read here four tips on how to recognize greenwashing and actually shop in an environmentally conscious way.
Recognizing greenwashing - this is how it works
1. Pay attention to transparency and check the facts
Very general, spongy formulations are often the first indicators for recognizing greenwashing. Companies that really value sustainability set themselves goals that can be proven or measured using numbers. In this context, transparency is an important keyword. Sustainable brands that are serious about Environment and employ fair working conditions, this is usually also proven on their websites.
Regularly appearing Sustainability reports give consumers detailed insights into the company's activities. Which materials are used in production? Is there CO2 offsets? And are workers paid so that they can earn a living from the money?
Many brands now publish sustainability or CSR reports. However, there are no defined ones Standardswhat information must be included in the reports. Here, too, the statements are often vague and not very meaningful. Industry-standard third-party certifications can help to objectively verify the statements presented in the reports.
2. Companies only meet the minimum standards
If you want to recognize greenwashing, it is also worth taking a look at generally applicable guidelines and legal requirements. Some brands adorn themselves with being particularly sustainable, for example because they use energy-efficient LED lamps or avoid certain chemicals that are harmful to the environment. However, these measures are not indicative of particularly sustainable action, but standards, compliance with which is required by law.
For the assessment of how sustainable a company is, these facts are completely irrelevant, as they should apply to all companies. If these standards are the only efforts towards greater sustainability, this is a clear sign of greenwashing.
3. Recognize greenwashing at Fast Fashions "Conscious Collections"
Sustainable collections as part of the overall range give the impression that the first steps towards sustainability have been taken. These supposedly ecological collections, however, often only comprise a fraction of the total production and are nothing more than a clever marketing strategy, especially in the Fast Fashion Area is used.
After all, environmentally conscious products are popular with consumers and the “green image” of a collection quickly spreads across the entire company. A positive impact on the environment, however, is by no means discernible.
4. Does the company take a holistic approach?
The usage environmentally friendly materials and recycled packaging are an important part of sustainable action. However, efforts should go well beyond this if a company is seriously interested in minimizing its ecological footprint and assuming social responsibility. plastic and avoiding waste is undoubtedly a good, important step to counteract existing environmental problems.
However, if a company's sustainability strategy focuses exclusively on external factors, such as the use of environmentally friendly materials or the needs of consumers, greenwashing can be clearly identified.
A T-shirt made from 100% Organic cotton is produced, can of course be marketed better than a shirt polyester. However, if the cotton shirt was produced under conditions that do not guarantee fair wages and the safety of the workers, there can hardly be any question of real sustainability here either.
Recognize greenwashing, remain critical and take a close look
As consumers become more aware of sustainability, more and more are presenting Brands their activities, products and values as environmentally friendly, even if this is anything but the case in reality.
Greenwashing is not uncommon, exists in many different forms and is not always recognizable at first glance. It is worthwhile to remain critical and to take a close look before buying so as not to be fooled by empty marketing promises and bold formulations.