The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
What is Greenwashing?
Sustainable and eco-friendly, so it has to be safe for the environment, right? Well.. wrong. Greenwashing is giving the impression that a product is good for the environment when in reality, it’s the opposite. For example, the new Kim Kardashian skincare line. Kim K put out a new skincare line called SKKN, in which she claims that her products are eco-friendly and refillable. By sending a new tube back, you can get it refilled for a discounted price. However, she neglects to mention how the bottles are all plastic, and when you send the item back for a refill, it compiles more plastic and more waste. This is greenwashing. There are three main types of greenwashing; green by association, red herring, and lack of definition.
Green by Association
Green by association is when a company attempts to market a product as “eco-friendly” by picturing the product near greenery and pleasant views. For example, many perfume companies put their perfume bottles with a green background, covered in flowers and bees, making the product seem green and good for the environment. But they don’t tell you the hazardous chemicals within the bottle that was likely tested on animals.
Red herring is when a company outright lies to the consumer. An example would be if a company were to say that a product is great for the environment, when in reality it does the same damage as their competitors. Red herring also couples in with lack of definition, being that companies can sell you lies and say their product is good for the environment when it actually isn’t.
Lack of Definition
Lack of definition is when a company doesn’t really explain how a product is “environmentally/eco-friendly”, “sustainable”, or any other buzzwords that may grip a consumers attention. What is eco-friendly to us, isn’t eco-friendly to them. If a product claims it’s good for the environment, but doesn’t exactly tell you how, it’s most likely greenwashing.
By understanding the main types of greenwashing and how to identify them, we can all make wiser consumer choices and see through the green sheen. There is no Planet B, and it’s crucial to educate ourselves and make better choices. Everyone can make a difference, no matter how big or small it may seem.