Don’t be fooled this Earth Day!
It’s Earth Month!
Earthlings, hello, and Happy Earth Month! As we gear up for Earth Day on April 22, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: greenwashing! Many corporations use Earth Day as a way to burnish their image as a sustainable company by making token gestures towards environmentalism without actually making substantive changes to their business practices. This allows them to continue to profit from activities that harm the environment while still appearing to care about the planet.
According to a study conducted by First Insight in 2020, 73% of the Gen Z consumers who participated expressed a willingness to pay extra for eco-friendly products. As such trends continue to gain momentum, numerous companies are striving to achieve their sustainability targets or assessing prospective partners and suppliers through a sustainable framework. However, not every company claiming to be environmentally friendly is genuinely so, and not all assertions of sustainability are verifiable. This means that the practice of greenwashing is becoming increasingly prevalent.
Don’t be fooled…
Greenwashing is a sneaky marketing tactic used by companies to make us believe that their products are eco-friendly and sustainable (or at least more so than their competitors), even when they’re not. They do this by exaggerating or outright lying about their environmental impact, making vague claims, or focusing on minor eco-friendly features while ignoring larger issues. Not only do their products potentially hurt the environment, but marketing aimed to get people to buy things they don’t really need hurts the Earth by perpetuating more waste.
For example, have you ever seen a plastic water bottle with a little green leaf on it, claiming to be environmentally friendly? Or a product that claims to be “all-natural” but is actually full of harmful chemicals? Marketing gas-guzzling cars for 0% down or fast fashion sales honoring this year’s Earth Day? That’s greenwashing in action.
The problem with greenwashing is that it can mislead consumers and make us think that we’re making environmentally friendly choices when we’re not. This is not only bad for the planet, but it also undermines efforts to promote sustainability, and worse; it can erode trust in environmental claims.
We can do better!
So instead of falling for companies’ false claims, let’s opt for a refuse and reuse lifestyle that truly benefits the planet. Refuse products you don’t truly need–that extra going out top or the new, top-of-the-line lawn tractor (this is one of the best things you as an individual: REFUSE!) or, opt for a secondhand/pre-loved option (REUSE!)!
Remember, Earth Day should be about taking real action to protect the planet, not just a day for companies to make a quick buck. Let’s put an end to greenwashing and take steps toward a more sustainable future together!
More resources on greenwashing:
- NRDC – What Is Greenwashing?
- National Geographic – Is your favorite ‘green’ product as eco-friendly as it claims to be?
- The Guardian – Fashion greenwashing glossary: what do ‘circular’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘zero waste’ really mean?