Greenwashing Part I: The Basics
In a world where people are becoming more aware of their impacts on the planet, greenwashing—the term used to describe when a company markets themselves as more environmentally friendly (green) than they actually are—has become a major obstacle to change. Understanding and finding ways to curb such misleading information will be a necessary part of improving the industry as a whole. Over the next three blogs, we’ll get into the basics of greenwashing, what regulations are out there to stop it and what you, as a consumer, can do to help reduce it.
Why is it a problem?
The biggest problem with greenwashing is that it holds the industry back from making effective, long-term change. How does it do this? By appearing to be more environmentally friendly than they are, companies can mislead the investors and consumers who are genuinely trying to do the right thing. These people will then continue to support harmful companies when they otherwise might not have. Not only is this stopping the investments and support from going to the companies who are creating real change, it’s taking away the individual consumer’s ability to make informed choices.
But greenwashing doesn’t just make things difficult for consumers. It also makes it harder for the companies who are actually doing the right thing. Because greenwashing is so common, it’s brought with it significant distrust, reducing consumer confidence in all brands, including those that are genuinely sustainable. To get back this trust, these brands then need to spend extra funds to get third-party certifications, when they could instead use this money for more sustainability initiatives.
Why do brands do it?
While some companies simply misunderstand the extent of what goes into making a product truly eco-friendly, the reason brands greenwash usually boils down to one thing: money. By convincing consumers that their products are more sustainable than they really are, brands can capitalise on the growing demand for responsibly made products. Not only can they charge more for said products, but they can also ensure they don’t lose customers to the ethical brands who are doing the right thing.
How do brands do it
Greenwashing can look different for every company, but there are a few common methods worth looking out for. One you can likely see anytime you go shopping, is to highlight the few ways a product or brand is sustainable while hiding the more harmful aspects in the fine print. Another common method is to use vague, unverifiable language or images that are often linked with sustainability to make consumers associate the product with such practices. Think images of nature or terminology like ‘eco-friendly’ without proper evidence to back it up.
At Loop Home, we’ve taken the time to look at every step of our supply chain to guarantee our products are made responsibly. From certified organic cotton sourced from the Aegean coastline of Türkiye to our very own upcycling program, we’ve been making responsible, carbon neutral products from day one. Learn more about us and our company values on our About page or from one of the many blogs in our Journal.
Without a doubt, the extent of greenwashing within the textile industry—and every industry for that matter—is very concerning. To reduce its effects, governments, companies and individuals will need to work together; but more on this in Part 2.