Greenwashing - what consumers can do

Greenwashing Part 3: What you can do

So far in this greenwashing blog series, we’ve covered the basics of what greenwashing is and what government regulations are in place to stop it. To finish up in this third and final blog of the instalment, we thought it only fitting to look into what you, as a consumer, can do to stop it.

What can you do?

When it comes down to it, greenwashing can only truly be stopped by government regulations and businesses doing the right thing, but there are ways that consumers can help encourage such change.

The first step is to take a moment to think critically about the claims a business is making and dig a little deeper to see if these claims are backed up with evidence. A genuine company should be transparent about all areas of their business, from manufacturing to how they treat their employees.

When you do find a company that’s doing their best, try to support them in any way possible. This may involve buying their products or can be as simple as sharing them online or with family and friends.

And, finally, if you do come across a company that’s clearly greenwashing, you’re well within your rights to call them out and report them. Naming and shaming can seem harsh, but holding businesses accountable can be the only thing that will truly push them to improve.

How to find the companies doing the right thing

Knowing you want to support the businesses that are doing the right thing, and actually finding them, are two completely different things. Sifting through and researching each company can seem overwhelming, especially with the prevalence of greenwashing these days. This is where third-party certifications come in. These organisations essentially research a company for you, assessing business practices to identify if they meet a set of strict standards for certification. Some good certification bodies include the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Fair Trade International. These both have strict requirements to get and maintain their certifications and consider both environmental and ethical factors. While even these aren’t without their own controversies, they’re able to learn much more about a company than most of us, and are likely to be the best source of information.

To search for companies with these standards, both GOTS and Fair Trade International have search functions to find companies with their specific certification. These can be found at the Certified Suppliers Database and Fairtrade Finder. This can be a great place to start, although it’s important to keep in mind that there are many companies, especially small ones, that simply can’t afford to go through the process of getting certified. Another good source within the fashion industry that may include businesses without certifications is Good On You—a brand directory that uses its own rating system to assess ethics and sustainability.  

In recent years, greenwashing has become something we all experience far too often. It not only deceives well-meaning consumers, but also holds us all back from reducing our environmental impacts. Some governments are introducing stricter laws and regulations, but we’ve yet to see any as strong as necessary. While the responsibility should in no way rest on consumers, it’s important that everyone does what they can. Ultimately, all of us individual consumers, businesses and governments need to play our part to curb greenwashing. At Loop Home, we work hard to be a part of that change.