No matter what kind of product you’re looking to purchase these days, there is almost always guaranteed to be many ways to go about buying, and always a multiplicity of options to choose from. Whether you’re buying online or walking into a brick-and-mortar store, it is important to know a little bit about the ‘natural’ product you’re buying.
So what is greenwashing?
It is important to remember that there is much profit to be gained from advertising “green” and “environmentally sustainable.” Greenwashing is the practice of glossing over facts in order to sell a product to a broader audience, creating the image of a product that is less harmful, or having less of an overall footprint than in actuality- ultimately lying to the consumer.
The word “natural” is something to watch for- an ambiguous term, “natural” is used by advertisers to make almost anything sound better for the environment. Walk into nearly any store selling household goods or food items, and you’re bound to find something with this label. While it is more difficult for a product to be labelled as Organic without proper certifications- (see our page on all of our organic raw material certifications) - many brands can use the word “natural” without needing to adhere to any real standard.
Sometimes it can be as simple as changing the label of a product, just so that it aesthetically looks like it could be a greener product. With clothing, it is even easier to sell a few white lies, as it can be more difficult to trace the journey of the product from cotton field to warehouse to storefront.
As consumers who want to consider the human and environmental costs of products we buy, it can be hard to wade through what is ethically produced, and what isn’t. So how do you know when a brand isn’t doing its due diligence?
Watch out for ~
Vague language (like ‘natural’), or third party endorsements.
Greenwashing through imagery- branding on packaging like leaves or green pastures, attempting to conjure the aesthetic of an environmentally friendly product.
Products making green claims with no proof- if there’s nothing to back up a brands’ claims of sustainability, they are trusting that the consumer won’t do their research first!
Not focusing on the big picture- a good example of this would be a makeup company with one vegan product line, while using animal testing in the production of the rest of their products.
While it would be fantastic if every company was transparent in how their products are made, this is not our reality. Good choices can be made with even the lightest of research before making a purchase. Besides, if all of us try our best to shop with a lighter footprint (and that includes buying direct from small businesses), that is one way to take on these kinds of massively problematic marketing schemes once and for all!
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