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Up to 50% of firms fear unintentional greenwashing today – How about yours?


Up to 50% of firms fear unintentional greenwashing today – How about yours?

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Concept of energy efficient light bulb

Greenwashing practices involving a company boasting eco-friendly, sustainable processes and material consumption but hiding the exactly opposing reality are being increasingly criticized, belittled, and even penalized. A bunch of environmental activists called out for bad and reproachable behavior masked by inflated sustainability claims is probably the image that pops into many individuals’ minds when hearing about businesses getting slammed for their greenwashing.

However, what’s a business to do when they’re deeming their operations and results as sustainable as they’re asked to be, unaware of where the truth hides? Some businesses engage in greenwashing unintentionally and without doubting that they’re doing so, falling victim to greenwashing traps and other unearthed pitfalls. So, where should the world stand when it comes to businesses spreading misinformation without their consent or deliberation? Could your business be the inadvertent victim of such eco-gibberish attitudes?

Environmental buzzwords being thrown around foolishly

Many greenwashing risks arise from a lack of regulation on how environmental buzzwords like biodegradable, compostable, organic, sustainable and carbon-neutral are used. While the general public has a vague and broad idea of what these generally perplexing terms may indicate, there’s often more education that needs to be instilled before the average consumer can attest that they can’t be messed around or fooled by misleading or insufficiently disclosing labels.

From greenwashing to triple-bottom-line to bioplastics, there are boundless buzzwords and taglines spurred in sustainability and climate change discussions. Furthermore, they’re also used in interviews, declarations, statements, and other public pronouncements from wannabe-sustainable businesses that are still profiting from the somewhat limited knowledge and awareness surrounding these catchlines. 

As the well-meaning average customer fails to make the difference between all those complex terms, malevolent businesses take advantage of the marketing tools that make consumers associate them with green companies.

On the other hand, it’s important to note that many brands may unintentionally induce unaware consumers into error. Their speeches could involve buzzwords thrown around to create a good brand image but without a seed of truth in them.  

A “green leaf label” can take a business incredibly and unmeritedly far

The fact that conscientizing the difference between a spoof business and a real green one is a challenging undertaking. Many businesses feel more than entitled to place something as small as a green leaf on their package to lead the observer into thinking that the respective symbol indicates sustainability behind the package and product’s construction. However, since a robust regulatory system is often off the table when many labels are created, the chances are that a least once in a lifetime, you’ve been subjected to buying a seemingly sustainable product that was actually a sham.

Not long ago, around 42% of sustainable assertions were found to be false, far-fetched, fabricated, or fallacious, encouraging and succeeding in having eco-oriented consumers invest in deceitful business offerings. However, the good news is that as more awareness is being raised with regard to the hard-to-spot greenwashing and the common pitfalls the audience is exposed to, the more educated consumers become in this regard. Thus, sooner or later, greenwashing practices will be bound to disappear – otherwise, they could jeopardize the stability of the crafty brand up to financial collapse.

Green ads are just as delusively ambiguous

Some businesses claim (and possibly believe) that they’ll go all-green by the middle of the decade or, more intriguingly, by the end of this decade. However, it’s generally known that such accomplishments are difficult, if not impossible, for a wide range of businesses. Some are yet to implement green-minded strategies such as nature-friendly waste disposal like a plethora of Sweden enterprises are doing at the moment, postponing the moment again and again, whereas other businesses are actively looking for such excellent tools and techniques. 

Over 30% of respondents in a recent survey stated that they observed greenwashing signs on the market at least once over the past year, whereas just 3% could literally tell dishonest claims from perplexing ones. Separating the wheat from the chaff may be the battle of today’s consumers and regulators, so here’s where businesses must invest to guarantee their survival. Consumers are becoming more and more familiar with today’s most common greenwashing red flags, consequently toughening brands’ attempts to gain undeserved merits.

Greenhushing and greenwishing are also problems of our day, but the world is just an arm’s length away from delving deeper into these realms and differentiating genuine and honest brands from tricky and deceiving ones.

Evidence – the unbeatable proof of genuine sustainability

Since greenwashing can be such a weighty problem that legal repercussions like fines and legal action can arise, it’s only sound to work to tick the boxes that prove you’re lawfully preventing false claims. Here, legitimate evidence is your best friend. You can avoid such legal matters by supporting your claims with proof and letting them be openly revealed through standard communication mediums like sustainability reports.

Various distinct types of proof that can back you up exist, such as third-party certifications that demonstrate your services and products fulfill specific environmental standards. LEED certifications, for instance, represent the largest global system to rate green buildings, offering the framework that helps businesses stay committed to their eco-friendly goals. Working in 186 nations and territories, such a notable distinction will instantly stamp your business as an environmentally friendly one.

Similarly, you can get Life-cycle Assessment research studies and similar documents underlining your enterprise’s environmentally-safe operations and processes. Such evidence will demonstrate the actual effect of the business’s services and products.

Last, you can strengthen your claims and prove their veracity through internally extracted data. Waste production, water usage, and energy consumption are some of the areas drawing the most significant focus, so when they’re tackled, they can either make or break your environmental claims.

In a nutshell

Inadvertent greenwashing can be just as accidental as a far-fetched social media post or communication abounding in buzzwords misused, meaning that all of your righteous goals can lead in the opposite direction if you treat these matters lightly. Learn your true impact, spend time to thoroughly comprehend your enterprise’s operations and their impact, and avoid “fluff” words that can make your marketing misunderstandable. The tiniest of errors can sometimes emerge from healthy intentions paired with poor math.