You walk into the local supermarket and are browsing cleaning supplies; you find the surface cleaner section and see a bottle with small leaf labelled “natural ingredients”. Feeling good about your choices, you bring the bottle home and notice in smaller type the words “Caution! Keep out of reach of children”. Well, you may have just been greenwashed.
Greenwashing refers to the marketing of something as "green" when it isn't actually eco-friendly at all. This is often related to the manipulation of facts in order to sell you lies. Greenwashing is becoming more difficult for both businesses and customers as the selection of sustainable products available grows. How can you tell if a product is truly sustainable? And how can a firm ensure that its products are truly beneficial to the environment?
According to one study, at least some sort of greenwashing was used in 95% of the products tested. Usually, the devil is in the details. The easiest way to avoid being duped by greenwashing is to understand common greenwashing strategies and buy items that pass the test.
There are a few factors to watch out for if you want to determine whether a brand is truly sustainable.
No company can be perfect, but the ones you should trust explain where they are now - such as their waste, carbon footprint, and greenhouse gas emissions - as well as where they aim to go and how they plan to get there.
Doing this helps to keep themselves honest and accountable while also inspiring their colleagues to achieve better. It should be straightforward to learn more about an organisation’s fundamental beliefs and commitment to sustainable practices with just a little amount of inquiry.
Containers and packaging account for a significant share of municipal solid rubbish output, accounting for 82.2 million tonnes in 2018. (28.1% of total generation). If a company wants to be sustainable, it must consider the packaging it uses and how much of it it uses.
With internet shopping becoming more common, especially during the pandemic, finding a business that doesn't utilise extra packing, or at least having the choice to choose less packaging, is critical.
Green packaging solutions, such as employing recyclable or biodegradable materials, have various advantages, ranging from reduced greenhouse gas emissions to less plastic in the ocean.
On your next online shopping journey, look for packaging using bioplastics, plant-based plastics, recycled paper and plastics, and post-consumer products. This information will be easy to see and only a few clicks away on a sustainability-focused brand's website, but on a greenwashed brand's website, you'll often be left with more questions than answers.
Because manufacturing in the United Kingdom accounts for only 12-15% of the economy, many companies manufacture their products elsewhere. In many circumstances, it's the country of origin that is liable for labour laws regardless of company policy.
This means that, even if UK-based employees are treated fairly, the same cannot necessarily be said for factory workers or manufacturers from other countries. The garment industry is the worst offender, with the average employee working 96 hours per week in often appalling working conditions.
Finding out about a company's working conditions can be difficult, with many companies going out of their way to keep this information hidden. However, looking for third party certifications is a great way for consumers to understand more about a company.
The most straightforward approach to find sustainable brands is to look for green certifications.
Many factors go into determining eco-consciousness, but the most essential certificates involve ethical worker treatment, responsible material procurement, and waste management.
Businesses seek these certifications to promote their legitimacy as clients demand more transparency after being deceived for a long period. The Vegan Society, Certified B Corporation, GoodWeave, Fair Trade, Global Recycled Standard, OEKO-TEX, Leaping Bunny, and Forest Stewardship Council are just a few examples of popular certification.
It's also crucial to know how much of their supply chain adheres to these standards and how much of, for example, their cotton is organic. Is all of their paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council? Is it true that all of their materials are fair trade? A brand cannot be totally certified, but it must have the authenticity to back up its promises.
Keep a lookout for non-recognized stamps or certificates; some companies plaster a "100% Natural" design on their product to make it appear certified, but it's really a marketing ploy.
At Wild & Stone, alongside our official certifications, we add further details to all our products, so you know just how sustainable the product is. Below you can see an example of this, explaining the factory and wage background, the materials, the shipment, and details into our packaging to help you ensure your product is truly green.
When a company shows the actions they are taking in a clear and direct way you can feel safe you're not being greenwashed. We always strive to be crystal clear about our production process so you can ensure each product you buy from us is completely sustainable.
Wild & Stone’s mission is to create stylish, easy to adopt and usable alternatives to common plastic products around the home. We source all our products sustainably, from raw material to final delivery. Shop our wide range today.