Everything you need to know about ‘Greenwashing’.
When brands spend more time and money on marketing themselves as ‘green’ rather than actually doing the hard work to ensure it is sustainable, that is called greenwashing.
Greenwashing is happening more and more as brands are recognise that socially conscious sells and therefore have a financial incentive to market themselves that way. McKinsey found that Gen Z (people born roughly between 1995 and 2010) are more likely to spend money on companies and brands seen to be ethical.
One example of brands that greenwash are those that pay their staff a minimum wage, rather than a ‘living wage’. Many garment workers are paid a ‘minimum wage’ which is the lowest legal wage allowed by each country, which is far below what they need to feed themselves and their families, pay rent and healthcare, transport, education and other living costs. By asking brands about their factories, we can encourage transparency of their supply chains and reduce the incidence of production facilities that overlook the needs of their workers.
Another telltale sign of brands that greenwash are those that focus on eco-friendly packaging but not much else. Packaging gestures alone often don’t make up for production processes that cause vast amounts of waste and pollution. Brands that mass-produce low quality items are no better than fast-fashion labels, even if they are marketed as ‘timeless’. Rejecting current trends with ‘basics’ makes no impact on our planet if the clothes are cheaply made as they’ll still end up in landfill sooner rather than later.
Whether it’s intentional or not, greenwashing detracts from making tangible progress against climate change. With more companies than ever using ‘eco-friendly’ marketing and PR to align with growing customer values on the environment, recognizing greenwashing has never been more important.