According to recent studies, well-known companies like Coca-Cola and Unilever are misleading consumers by using “greenwashing.” According to The Changing Markets Foundation (CMF), in recent years, the number of goods with sustainable or green labels has grown dramatically, and many well-known firms have engaged in greenwashing. However, even as companies tout their efforts to be more sustainable, their emissions, exploitation, and overproduction all increase.
What is Greenwashing?
Greenwashing is the practise of falsifying or exaggerating a product’s, service’s, brand’s, or even an entire company’s green credentials.
Greenwashing is not only seen as immoral and harmful to progressive enterprises, but it is also a problem in and of itself. Those who are making false or fraudulent statements may harm companies who are genuinely trying to change the world.
Prevalence of Greenwashing in the World
The International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network (ICPEN) conducted a global review of nearly 500 websites promoting goods and services across a variety of industries, including apparel, cosmetics, and food, and the results were published in January 2021. It was found that 40% of green claims made to customers may be false.
In accordance with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority standards, 59 percent of the “green” claims made by fashion manufacturers are false or unjustified, according to research done by the Changing Markets Foundation in 2021 for their report Synthetics Anonymous. This could have reached 90% or more for some brands.
Popular Companies engaging in Greenwashing
Coca-Cola is one prominent example given in the Changing Markets Foundation report. Coca-Cola reportedly spent millions of dollars promoting an idea. Although it conceals the fact that it is the world’s top generator of plastic pollution, the company says that 25% of the plastic in its bottles comes from marine sources. The Coca-Cola Company is the worst corporate plastic polluter in the world for the fourth consecutive year, according to the Break Free From Plastic brand assessment.
The first legal action alleging greenwashing in the aviation industry was brought in the District Court of Amsterdam by Dutch activists Fossielvrij NL with the assistance of ClientEarth, a nonprofit organisation that promotes environmental law, and Reclame Fossielvrij.
Campaigners are trying to halt KLM’s “Fly Responsibly” advertisements, claiming that by creating the misleading impression that their flights won’t make the climate issue worse, they are in violation of the Dutch implementation of the EU’s Unfair Consumer Practices Directive. By contributing to reforestation projects or helping to cover the cost of cleaner aviation fuels through its CO2ZERO offers, which are intended to help reduce flight-related carbon emissions, KLM urged customers to help pioneer a “sustainable future” for aviation when it first launched the advertising campaign last December.
Campaign groups claim that substituting fossil jet fuel, developing more efficient engines, or using other future technologies cannot make aviation sustainable rapidly enough to achieve global climate objectives. This argument was supported by a major investment group in March.
Why is this important?
By masking continuous environmental exploitation and enabling those in power to get away with it, greenwashing gives us a false sense of security.
The major problem with greenwashing is that it deceives us into believing that things are improving when they are actually deteriorating or staying the same.
In the fashion business, for instance, there are now more sustainable or environmentally friendly products than ever before, but the industry’s environmental impact has increased as a result. This impact is worsening by the day due to increasing emissions, increased reliance on synthetic materials generated from fossil fuels, skyrocketing overconsumption, and a growing waste catastrophe.