Have you been a victim of greenwashing?
Greenwashing. You may or may not have heard the term but chances are you’ve already succumbed to it. Companies try really hard to make you buy their product and will go to great lengths to convince you to buy theirs over the competitors. Part of this strategy can involve making the product seem more environmentally friendly than it actually is. They might use commonly associated green elements like brown paper packaging or use terms like “eco-friendly”, “natural” or that they use “100% recyclable packaging”. It is easy to fall into the trap of spending more on these products believing them to be the greener choice, when in fact it might just been sneaky marketing. Don’t get me wrong, not every company who chooses to use paper packaging and “green” terminology is out to lure you into buying their product under false pretences, but it’s about knowing how to spot the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
So how are you meant to spot the wolf? In 2019, Consumer NZ found a common brand claiming that their baby wipes were “100 % Biodegradable” were in fact made of 17 % polyester, a plastic which will not biodegrade. Customers were paying a higher price for these wipes based on false advertising thinking they were making a more environmentally conscious choice. Like the old saying, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. When companies use terms like “biodegradable” or “commercially compostable”, don’t immediately assume that it is the most environmental choice. Using trusted accreditations like B-Corp and Toitu can help you to spot brands which have been rigorously tested to ensure they’re backing up their claims.
I often find that the best way to get to the bottom of whether a brand is really doing what they say are, is to do a deep dive into their website. Companies who are genuinely doing good want to shout from the rooftop about it, the ones who aren’t make it difficult to find out more about what they’re claiming. When it comes to sustainability, transparency is key. Don’t be afraid to flick them a friendly email to ask more about what it is they’re claiming, they may have just missed putting up the details on their website and an email is great feedback for them to do so. However, if you feel like it’s something that needs to be called out for misleading claims, you can make a complaint to the Commerce Commission under the Fair Trading Act.
We’re always happy to do the deep diving into a brand or product if you’re unsure of their claims. Send us a message through our website or social media, you want to know that your hard earned dollars are being spent on genuine good and not hot air.