Greenwashing: The Deceptive Marketing Technique and How to Spot it

by Brightmark November 13th, 2021

Authored by Abby Ashenhurst

Recently you may have heard the term “greenwashing” throughout the sustainability and environmentally-focused industries. But, “what exactly is greenwashing?” you might be wondering. Greenwashing (often called the “green sheen”) is a corporation’s marketing and PR technique. It is a deceptive technique to manipulate consumers into thinking the company is more sustainable and eco-conscious than they are. Greenwashing portrays a false image aiming to deceive the consumer. This marketing style makes it more challenging to shop responsibly and know what’s happening behind the scenes. We will talk about some signs of greenwashing you can learn to look out for.


A Lack of Credibility

One of the biggest giveaways is when a company seems sustainable, but you can’t find any facts when you research. When the means of production or a company’s ethics on these issues are hard to find, this is usually for a reason. They don’t want you to find it.


Exclusive Sustainable Product Offerings

Another big trick is companies releasing limited or exclusive ‘eco-friendly’ ranges and convincing you that they are eco-conscious and are making an effort to change—when if that were the case, they wouldn’t be selling their other fast fashion lines or products the opposite of sustainable.


Showing One Side of the Coin

Some more subtle signs of greenwashing are when they only prioritize one aspect of sustainability, for example, using 100% natural material but still having the piece manufactured in a sweatshop. This can make it seem sustainable at first glance because you’re just looking at what the item is made from.

There are ways to avoid being sucked into greenwashing, though. Looking into a company’s history, background, and other production methods can help you spot if the company is greenwashing or not. Also, explore their website a little more, and see if they are transparent about their production or carbon footprint, amongst other things.


How to Spot Greenwashing

Firstly, look past the imagery and marketing, and look for facts, figures, and production methods. If you do this and struggle to find anything, try using the website, which allows you to search for a company and tell you more about how sustainable they are.

You can try and take note of many small things, like certifications and reviews.

Now more than ever, we feel the importance of shopping sustainably. Knowing how to research before you buy, and being in the know, can help make you feel more confident while shopping. Little changes in how we live and shop can make a big difference when it all adds up.

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