Greenwashing: What it is and what to look for in a truly eco-friendly brand and product

Greenwashing image

We all know what whitewashing is — the deliberate glossing over of something unpleasant, according to Webster. People do it in their personal lives all the time — if you’ve ever seen social media posts about your friends’ suspiciously idyllic lives, you know what we’re talking about. We see it in politics and business regularly, too. The glossing over of scandals or failures. Any way you slice it, whitewashing feels dishonest and leaves a vaguely bad taste in people’s mouths.

But have you heard of greenwashing? It’s a relatively new term (and practice) that, if you are concerned about the environment, you should be aware of.

Greenwashing is when a company makes it look like they are environmentally conscious when in fact, they are not. They use green language in their marketing and branding, but make minimal, if any, efforts to walk that talk. Basically put, they are deceiving consumers who are interested in buying products and services from green companies. They’re capitalizing on the green wave without owning it.

Why are they doing it? Because people want to support green companies. Here are some eye-opening facts to consider:

  • 66% of Americans (and 75% of millennials) consider sustainability when they make a purchase, according to research by McKinsey & Co.
  • 72% of Americans are actively buying more environmentally friendly products than they did five years ago.
  • 81% are expecting to ramp that up over the next five years.

It pays to be green. But as a consumer, how can you be sure you’re getting the real thing?

Spotting greenwashing vs. real environmentally friendly products

Look past the packaging. Just because a company’s branding looks green, doesn’t mean it is. A plain, brown package with a tree on it doesn’t mean the product inside is sustainable.

Be suspicious of vague terms. It’s very easy to say a product is green or “all natural.” But what does that mean, exactly? Crude oil is natural, too. So is arsenic and poison mushrooms. That doesn’t mean they’re good for the planet or your family.

Are there specifics? At Nature Lake, we let you know exactly what’s in our products, why those ingredients are not harmful to the environment or your family, how our tablet-based model vs. a big jug filled with water-based cleaner is better for the environment, why we don’t use plastic bottles, and more. If you’re not getting those kinds of specifics from another company, you should start to ask yourself why.

Does it come in plastic? No matter what’s inside of a plastic bottle, you still have a plastic bottle. The earth will have it too, for 500 years after you’re finished using it. Plastic is one of the top pollutants of our time, despite greenwashed claims that it is recyclable.

Scan the company’s social media sites. Companies that are truly committed to the environment are usually evangelicals about it. Their social media will be filled with exactly how, when and where they’re saving the planet, whether it’s how their product is manufactured, its ingredients or whether it’s pet friendly.

Bottom line, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That’s why, at Nature Lake, we are not only committed to sustainability, but we walk that talk in everything we do.

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