The Rise of Greenwashing
The Rise of Greenwashing
Where companies sell your future for profit
We’ve all seen the rise of allegedly ‘eco-friendly’ practices in the last years -from a reduction and/or change in packaging, to better ingredient sourcing, everything looks great - but is this a reality? And if it isn’t what is it you should be looking for? In this article, I’m going to try and show you that not all that glistens in the sustainable world is gold, but it’s not hard to find diamonds in this ‘Greenwashed’ rough.
A lot of the recent hype around sustainability does come from big companies, whether it be the McDonald’s paper straw fiasco, H&M’s clothing recycling scheme, or Primark using ‘sustainable cotton’, it’s becoming more and more common to use the green message as a selling point.
However, this can easily lead you into a false sense of security. A lot of these alleged changes are either easy, not enough, or outright lies. ‘Greenwashing’ is the next big term in the eco-world: “disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.”
Why would a company do this? Because they are aware their practices are an issue, but don’t want to reduce their profits. Please remember these companies are not on your side. Unless the CEO is incredibly motivated to make a real difference (very rare, as boards of directors tend not to vote people like these in as they’re thought to be bad to their bottom-line profit), the company is not going to make changes until forced to.
Current business leaders will never understand that the value of a private island is severely diminished when it’s underwater due to ice caps melting, or simply are so wilfully ignorant that the suffering of future generations is nothing compared to getting £100k more on next year’s bonus.
So what can you do?
- Buy small – scare the big companies into changing by shifting their revenue away from them. Small business will use the money for necessities, not their next yacht. They are also typically more transparent.
- Positive reinforcement – if a corp does do something good, buy it over the alternative, even if it’s a bit more expensive. This is where your money sends a message.
- Research – Pick your battles. If you do care, and are about to, say, buy a new pair of jeans, look up the businesses that actually care too. Even if they are a bit more expensive, they’ll typically be better and have better warranty schemes!
So, don’t fall for big businesses’ greenwashing tricks! We need to look out for each other in all things, but remember these CEO’s aren’t looking out for you with their superficial schemes. Buy small and do just a little research, and I hope you’ll find you’ll be richly rewarded.
I’ve tried to embody all of the best elements of small sustainable business in my new venture: The Carbon Offset Clothing Initiative. If you’re interested, please do have a look at www.carbonoffsetclothing.com.