Going green has become a profitable business strategy considering the contemporary environmental scenario. With rising awareness about climate change, more and more people are demanding the corporates to adopt green business practices and provide the customers with environment-friendly products and services. Green business practices not only open a new market of environment lovers, but also enjoy a favourable public sentiment among existing customers, and supportive government policies to help the company grow more.
This has been viewed as an opportunity by several corporates who have adopted ‘Greenwashing’ techniques to make them appear eco-friendly.
Greenwashing refers to the act of portraying an organization’s product or services as environmentally friendly only for the sake of marketing. In truth, the product or service doesn’t have or hardly has any environmental benefits. In fact, they may be operating in damaging ways to the environment while making the opposite claim.
There are basically two types of actions that could be tagged as greenwashing:
A company which claims credit for an existing production method as if they were influenced by an eco-friendly directive. For example, a company may eliminate the use of shrink wraps for packaging to cut costs but portray it as a green initiative.
A company might lie about the eco-friendliness of a product by using phrases such as “Best in class ecology”, packages showing green fields and flowers, certifications from ‘Ecomaniacs’. This is a more extreme form of greenwashing.
How Greenwashing is Done
Using images of leaves, animals, green packaging, etc to rebrand a product or a company are all ways of classic greenwashing. In truth, genuinely eco-friendly products generally use simpler images and plain packaging.
Building Perception of Legitimacy
Certain products are labelled “Certified”, “100% organic”, etc. without any supportive information to prove the same. There is a good chance that these labels are self-created and self-declared.
Corporations can put up an act of being environmentally friendly and sustainable but have a very non-environmental friendly trade-off. An example is when clothing companies use “natural” or “recycled” materials while the clothing is actually developed through exploitative conditions. Genuine companies would definitely provide more information on energy, water conditions, greenhouse gas emissions, etc.
We always come across CSR initiatives by beverage companies regarding water regeneration or conservation. This is however irrelevant because it was they who depleted the water reservoir in the first place, and it is their responsibility to restore it for the locals whose lives and livelihoods rely on the water reservoir. By advertising it has their CSR program, they are seeking goodwill and credit for cleaning up the mess they themselves created in the first place.
Although greenwashing has been around for many years, the process has escalated alarmingly in recent years. Being a consumer in search of quality products, one needs to be careful about the “Green Lies” that are sold in the name of “Green Goods”.