With sustainability becoming much more critical to the public than in the past, many brands are changing their business models to be friendlier to the planet- or at least they say they are. This practice is called greenwashing. Greenwashing, specifically, when businesses claim that their products are environmentally friendly without that being the case. 

checking out at counterGreenwashing is problematic for multiple reasons. This false advertisement is essentially lying to get your money. Dishonesty is hurtful to the public and detrimental to the planet in the long run. Consumers may be led to believe that their products are biodegradable or ethically sourced. They may even pay more for a product that won’t be in a landfill. Greenwashing weakens the trust between products and consumers. It’s unfair for people to put their money into a product that doesn’t do what it claims. 

There are ways to avoid greenwashed products. Researching is the best way to ensure your products are good for the environment. Plenty of popular Companies have had greenwashing issues come to light in recent years, like McDonald’s and H&M. If you’re going to put your money towards eco-friendly products, it’s best to look into the brand and make sure they are doing what they say they are and not just claiming to be sustainable. 

This research could be as simple as googling reviews of products online or looking into what types of resources are involved in creating a product. There are certifications for virtually every type of product (clothing, furniture, etc.) and some that are broader. You can check out Cradle2Cradle, a popular certification, here. In this case, someone has already done the work for you, and you can find many different products that are already certified! 

Through this process, it’s best to take a holistic approach. If you order from a brand that seems sustainable, but it has to be shipped across the world, that may be a little counterintuitive. Also, be prepared to spend a little money. If the product is sustainable, you should get plenty of uses out of it so that a heftier investment will be worth it in the long run. For example, fast fashion is cheap, but it’s of worse quality and won’t survive as many washes as other clothing. 

Overall, borrow, reuse, buy second hand, and buy local when you can and know what you’re purchasing before you spend your money. You may have to read between the lines to figure out exactly what’s going on, but that effort, in the beginning, will save so much in the end, not just for you but for future generations.

- Written by Samantha Tindall