Are eco-friendly companies a scam?
It might strike as a really fun and exciting concept for companies to offer environmental-friendly products to you, but do you really know whether the products are actually as nature friendly as stated or not? let's jump into the question and find out the answer to the above.
1. What is an eco-friendly company?
2. Greenwashing and Eco-fraud
3. Greenwashing Case Studies
4. Unpacking eco-friendly claims
What is an eco-friendly company?
People are becoming increasingly aware of environmental concerns. They have begun to observe the shift in global climate and increase in global crisis. Unfortunately, some of the actions taken to aid the global crisis have made the world worse than it was before. This is primarily because companies are trying to cash on the attitude changes and create or promote their products illegitimately.
These days, being eco-friendly (or environment/nature friendly or simply green) is a sustainability-assuring tactic. It is used by the goods and services industry or by the policymakers to claim decreased or little (often no or perverse) impact on the ecosystems or the environment.
An influx in the supposed "eco-friendly" items has heated the rivalry between businesses. Some companies take a step further and falsely label their products as "eco-friendly". As a result, we find "eco-fraud" gaining momentum in the markets today. So far, a CMA-coordinated global assessment of randomly chosen websites has discovered that 40% of green claims made online may be deceiving their customers.
Greenwashing and Eco-fraud
"Eco-fraud" is another term for greenwashing. Greenpeace claims that it misleads customers about a company's ecological policies or the green advantages of a product or service. While manufacturing an eco-friendly product will be costly (resulting in a lower competitive price), firms prefer to focus on falsely advertising that they are eco-friendly.
In the last decade, businesses have purposefully or unintentionally misled their clients by presenting their items as eco-friendly when they are not. Rather than manufacturing an eco-friendly product, it is more advantageous to make a claim (less expensive) and sell their items at a high price. As a result, most businesses are incorporating green marketing methods into their product offers. This indulgence in obvious greenwashing might find the company in serious legal jeopardy, so more on that later.
Greenwashing is far more than simply unlawful marketing. Green marketing gone wrong may have a long-term negative impact on your business and image and, of course, foremost, ironically contribute to environmental degradation.
This is a complex matter, and it's often difficult to identify whether a corporation is greenwashing or not.
Some Greenwashing Case Studies
Clorox 'Green Works' products
Green Works operates under the guise of offering eco-friendly household cleaning products to the public market, such as all-surface and window cleaners.
Some of these products, however, incorporate corn-based ethanol, which the environmental community has dubbed as neither economically effective nor environmentally benign. Many Green Works products contain sodium lauryl sulphate, which the firm defines as a "coconut-based cleaning ingredient.". While that may be true, SLS has long been condemned by the scientific community for its unnatural effects; in a paper issued more than 20 years ago, the American College of Toxicology identified SLS as a recognised skin irritant ("The big money", 2009; NBC News). A number of the products in the range also contain synthetic colours, which were added due to "customer input," according to Clorox Company official Aileen Zerudo.
Nestlé stated in 2018 that it had "ambitions" for its packaging to be 100% reused and recyclable by 2025. However, environmental organisations and other opponents pointed out that the corporation has not disclosed defined objectives and schedules to accompany its ambitions or steps to assist people in recycling.
In place of this, Greenpeace remarked how "Nestlé's announcement on plastic packaging comprises more of the same greenwashing baby steps to address a situation that it helped create". There seems to be no significant difference in the decrease of single-use plastics, and this sets the bar low on the world's largest food and beverage giant.
As Slate blogger Nina Shen Rastogi pointed out in a recent "Explainer" post, the green cosmetics craze is rising. But, with their "Natural Standards" effort, beauty juggernaut Sephora has adopted an incredibly dopey approach to the trend.
Sephora's motto, titled "Naturally Gorgeous," promises that items with a green stamp satisfy "strict internal requirements" and include "the cleanest, most effective ingredients Mother Nature has to give". Sephora's website features over 1,400 goods with the "Naturally Sephora" logo from more than 30 companies. According to the Environmental Working Group's Cosmetics Database, dozens of items considered "naturally beautiful" by Sephora contain significant quantities of hazardous and/or cancer-causing substances ("The big money, 2009; NBC News).
Unpacking Eco-friendly claims
Let's look at how one may avoid eco-frauds and ensure that eco-friendly marketing initiatives are presented accurately:
This is where the businesses should step in. Companies should avoid green terms like "organic", "100% recycled", "recyclable", and "environmental-friendly" for products and services when not applicable. Customers will then falsely feel they are doing something helpful for the environment.
Defining what "green" means
If a business is going to do eco-friendly marketing, it needs to establish some ground rules. Understanding what eco-friendly means for the organisation is critical, so check on the same to prevent being deceived as a client.
Instead of obtaining third-party certification, some businesses establish their own eco-friendly labels, which frequently include phrases such as "100% natural", "eco-friendly", "organic", and so on. Some may even develop certification procedures to display the certified mark on their label.
So it is crucial to check the evidence to back up any "green" motifs that a business employs in their eco-friendly marketing. For example, if the product is "certified organic," ensure the certificates are referenced in the product descriptions.
"Going green" is famous. Companies benefit from the trend by touting as many eco-benefits as possible for their products — even when these claims are stretched beyond belief. Do your bit to hold your businesses and/or client-self responsible by pointing out greenwashing and supporting brands that do better. We can hold corporations accountable and ensure those doing right by the world stand out by studying greenwashing and learning how to recognize its indications. This will raise the bar for the entire market and allow us to make better purchasing decisions.