Making people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is.
What is greenwashing?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, greenwashing is the “activities by a company or an organisation that are intended to make people think that it is concerned about the environment, even if its real business actually harms the environment”
A common form of greenwash, is to ‘publicly claim a commitment to the environment whilst quietly lobbying to avoid regulation.’
Essentially it is a marketing spin or ploy by a business to make you believe they are invested in eco-friendly, ethical practices when the reality could be quite the opposite.
Why is greenwashing harmful?
Greenwashing can mislead and deceive the consumer to think they are supporting products and brands that align with eco-friendly values, when in reality, they do not.
In their quest to appeal to woke millennial buyers, many new brands claim to fit into the ‘green’ category, even if it is not technically the case.
Millennials and Generation Z are a generation very conscious of their choices and know exactly what they want.
Naturally brands will go out of their way to appease this large segment.
It starts with claims of eco-friendly packaging like pretty green leaves, waterfalls enticing the consumer to think it is a good, sustainable brand.
Then perhaps move on to bigger claims labelling themselves ‘organic’, ‘all natural’.
This is unfortunately a very unregulated area and therefore easy to mislead consumers, for example a product has to contain just1% of an organic ingredient and it can be called organic even if it’s loaded with pesticides in the other 99%.
Brands may greenwash you into believing they are natural by printing ‘made with pure argan oil’ on the front of the box, whilst the ingredients on the back may reveal that it is only 1% in an otherwise chemical-laded formula.
Consumers who are looking to invest in a label that upholds ethics, sustainable farming, no animal cruelty, plant-based formulas, reduced carbon footprint and so on may be lead to believe these values are upheld with greenwashing, essentially false advertising..
So how do you help yourself from being greenwashed?
There are also global certifications like ECOCERT, COSMOS, PETA and RUELTY FREE INTERNATIONAL that brands can earn to solidify their status.
These independent organisations routinely inspect production facilities and test formulas, compelling brands to be honest and transparent about all their processes, while upholding a certain standard in the industry.
But you should check the logos are the genuine, (see our genuine certification logos below)…Yes, even logos are made up to make customers believe that a brand really cares.
Make Conscious Buying Easy With This Handy Checklist:
CHECK FOR THE PETA CERTIFICATION
When a brand displays this logo on their packaging, it means that the company does not test on animals, and does not contain animal-derived ingredients.
LOOK FOR THE LEAPING BUNNY CERTIFICATION
It’s considered the golden standard for certifying the ethical status of brands. It signifies pretty much the same thing as the PETA logo, and signifies that the brand does not sell to countries that test on animals too.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR EMPTIES
Buy products where all the packaging features this green logo indicating that the bottles and packaging are suitable to recycle.
FIND THE COSMOS STAMP
Ecocert is an organic certification orgranisation originally based in France.
When a product is COSMOS ECOCERT certified, you can be rest assured that 95% of its ingredients are of natural origin establishing global standards for the skincare market, and give brands a seal of approval.
The COSMOS Organic Certification ensures protection for vulnerable plants and is cruelty and GM free.
COSMOS Natural, on the other hand, is for for products that maybe can not receive organic status but are still planet-friendly. Organic is essentially a type of farming, and not all ingredients are farmed, for example sea water contains phytoplankton that is harvested but not farmed.
Ways to spot potential greenwashing
In order to know when you may see greenwashing, it is important to decide for yourself what you consider acceptable in your skincare products.
Look behind the buzzwords
Look for actual evidence that backs up any claims that a business is ‘sustainable’ or ‘eco-friendly’.
Do your research
It never does any harm to ask a brand, if you are not sure on their eco credentials
Just talk to a brand you like the look of and if they are truly doing their bit, they willbe more than happy to tell you about it.
Check the website and label to see if a trusted third party organisation has verified the brands claims.
Look for labels that cover the full spectrum of factors that go into being environmentally friendly.
Testing for harmful substances
Environmentally friendly production
Safe and socially responsible working conditions.
Be aware that sometimes to shop with brands that do not greenwash you may need to invest a little more money.
Do be wary of buying super cheap.