What is greenwashing?

Greenwashing is the practice of making a product or company appear more environmentally friendly than it actually is.

In a nutshell: 

  • Greenwashing makes a product or company appear more environmentally friendly than it is
  • It involves false claims and misleading information about environmental benefits or impacts
  • Greenwashing can be intentional – for commercial gain - but is often just down to a company’s lack of knowledge
  • Companies need to be transparent about their environmental credentials
  • If in doubt, it’s best to engage with third-party specialists

Think whitewashing, or pulling the wool over the public’s eyes.

Greenwashing is used by businesses looking to cash-in on the growing demand for green products or services. Watch out for misleading green logos or green packaging, false claims about a product’s environmental benefits, or an ominous silence about the environmental impact of a company’s activities.

Some of the worst examples of greenwashing are found when companies start talking about being carbon neutral. It’s one of the real buzz-words at the moment – but many companies claim to be carbon neutral when they are only offsetting a small proportion of their emissions.

Not all greenwashing is intentional. Some companies just don’t know what is best for the environment, or how to go about reducing their carbon footprint. Either way, it can be really bad for a company’s reputation, and can even lead to investigations and fines.

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