Do not be deceived.
Companies make eco-conscious claims to gain customers and increase their bottom line. Jay Westerveld, an environmental activist, coined the term greenwashing in 1980s. According to The Guardian, Westerveld was inspired to create the term after he saw a sign asking people to use their towels to save the environment.
The hotel was growing. According to Westerveld, avoiding washing towels and sheets daily is more eco-friendly, but this gesture was countered by the environmental impacts of building new hotels. The environmental impact of using towels can't be maximized if large businesses such as hotels lack energy-efficient lighting, landscape systems, and water flow systems.
Three years later, in 1986 Westerveld wrote of greenwashing. 36 years later, many hotels continue to encourage towel reuse from patrons, with messages promoting sustainability.
Andreas Rasche is a professor of business and society at Copenhagen Business School's Centre for Sustainability. He says that greenwashing is "an inconsistency in communication and actual practices."
This isn't just for hotels. Online retailers often allow customers to search for products that are sustainable. Major retailers sell dozens of beauty and health products, including shampoo, makeup, and snacks that are biodegradable and compostable and plant-based.
Many companies have pledged to combat climate change. These include low-cost fashion labels like Shein and Boohoo, which offer "sustainable" clothing and have appointed environmental leaders within their businesses. Experts warn that these efforts do not cover other environmental problems.
Carbon Market Watch and the NewClimate Institute released a report last February that detailed how successful 25 of world's biggest companies were in delivering on their pledges to reduce their carbon emissions. Low marks were given to most of these companies, including Walmart, Google, IKEA, and Google. All of these companies had pledged to achieve some level of zero emission, net zero, or carbon-neutrality. However, Maersk was the only one that was found to be "reasonable integrity." None of the companies were awarded a high integrity rating.
Rasche said that marketing green and sustainable products has become more common.
It's been around since consumers have responded to these environmental and social claims a lot. He said that companies feel pressured to make claims that aren't in line with their actual actions when they realize they are responding.
It has become more difficult to discern the difference between clever and real marketing, as companies have become "more sophisticated" in their marketing.
Rasche explains that consumers can tell the difference by following these steps.
See it up: When looking for products, services, and companies that actually take meaningful steps to protect the environment and fight climate change, Rasche advises to "spend some attention to it." Instead of buying the first product on the shelf with the most appealing claims, you should look into the company online to see how much information is available about the company's investment, who invested in it, and what specific goals were set for sustainability.
Avoid buzzwords Do not take eco-positive terms such as "natural", "fair trade," or "vegan," at face value. Rasche stated, "There are quite some buzzwords that companies can more often or less use without any legal restrictions."
He said that you can use these words, and there are very few legal rules around them. It all depends on where you live. "... "...
Although it will require more effort, you can be sure that you are making an eco-friendly investment. He suggested that you look for independent labels to verify claims. For example, some companies claim they are fair trade, which is a trade practice that promises a more sustainable and just production and supply chain. However, the certification does not exist. FairTradeCertified.org allows people to search for specific products to verify their certification, although just because items are Fair Trade Certified does not mean their companies are free of other environmental harms. He said that unions and non-governmental organizations can also verify labels.
Many companies will make exaggerated claims, which may not be true. Rasche stated that CFC-free products are often advertised today, but it is the law.
He said, "It's nothing special."
Online databases such as Ecolabel Index or the International Trade Centre's Standard Map can be used to help companies understand what different labels mean and what they need to be used.
Don't be fooled by all the buzzwords and labels. It is easy to think that you are buying eco-conscious products. Be sure to take the time to consider all aspects of what you are purchasing before you make a purchase. If you want to reduce the use of plastics in your daily life, consider everything from the item itself to the packaging if you order online. If an item appears cheap, it's likely that it was manufactured cheaply. Most Earth-friendly products cannot be made in this way.
The world's top scientists and experts continue to warn about the dangers ahead if mankind doesn't take control of climate change. While companies and global leaders are in charge of the situation, consumers can make a difference by changing the direction.
"The problem is us as humans. Rasche stated that if we want to solve the problem, then it is our responsibility. "...There's a moral obligation to support these kinds of sustainably-sourced products.
He said that consumers need to realize that if they want change something, then they must use their purchasing power. "... It's certainly more sustainable than planting trees.