5 ways to spot a company that is greenwashing

Reading Time: 2 min
Greenwashing highlights a positive trend: corporations are realising that people care about the environment = corporations care what people think about them = greenwashing. 
Greenwashing occurs when companies advertise small insignificant changes to create an undeserved image of environmental responsibility.

An example of this is Amazon Inc renaming it’s new purchase the Seattle’s Key Arena into the Climate Pledge Arena—and we all know Amazon’s climate pledges are pretty lame. Or that H&M’s “conscious line” is an environmental joke…Or that Nespresso’s capsule buy back campaign is simply diverting our attention from the truth: they produce lot’s of unnecessary waste.

5 ways to spot a company that is greenwashing:

  1. Are their environmental goals ambitious or ambiguous?

    • The science is clear: lower emissions by 2050 to avoid climate catastrophe.
    • Is the company placing strong targets and commitments? If not it’s mostly greenwashing.
  2. How transparent is the company?

  3. Do they have a short-term or a long-term timeline?

    • Is their target to be net-zero or carbon neutral by 2050 or by 2030? Do they have both a short-term and long-term strategy?
    • If the company has a very long-term timeline it’s most likely greenwashing.
  4. How much do the goals rely on off-setting?

    • Supporting forestry projects is a great idea, however only if it’s just part of the company’s emission cut goals. Carbon off-setting can pose several complexities: eg. what happens if the trees are cut down?
    • If the company isn’t also tackling its production emissions then it’s most likely greenwashing.
  5. Do they have certifications to back their claims?

    • By now there are many certifications that substantiate organic and sustainable productions: eg. organic cotton.
    • No certifications are usually a bad sign, if the company uses common materials or primary goods then more likely than not it should have a certification for the production process.

Also companies have realised that they can charge a premium for “eco-friendly” brands—a study in Sweden revealed that people often think an eco-friendly coffee brand will taste better than a regular brand, and thus will pay more. Therefore making sure that the brand is true to its claims can save you some hard earned pennies.


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