Short Guide: What Is Greenwashing And How To Avoid It

Short-Guide-To-greenwashing

Ever heard of the phrase greenwash?

Do you communicate your green credentials to customers and prospects?

If so you should be aware of the reputation costs of getting your communications wrong because of real or perceived greenwash.

In this short guide we explain what greenwash is and how you can avoid it.

What is greenwash?

Greenwash is an environmental claim which is unfounded, misleading or an inflated claim about environmental credentials. It can be made about people, organisations and products and is found in advertising, PR and packaging.

Why is greenwashing a problem?

Consumers have started to send strong environmental signals through their purchasing behavior; environmental awareness of the public is ever increasing. This is pushing businesses to clean up their environmental act.

However, consumers often rely on advertising and other corporate messaging to inform their purchasing choices. Greenwashing undermines confidence in the integrity of product and service claims.

Unfortunately, confidence is now at an all time low, with only 10% of consumers trusting green information from business and government.

Without confidence in the claims, consumers are reluctant to exercise the power of their green purchasing, as they no longer know who or what to believe.

This puts ‘green consumerism’ in danger and might damage the honest circle of companies promoting their green products, consumers choosing them over non-green products thereby encouraging business towards greater greenness.

Greenwash is the spanner in the works that could damage the whole environmental movement within business.

How can you avoid greenwashing?

There are four ways you can avoid greenwashing in your marketing:

  1. Ensure your claims can be substantiated with evidence. Where possible keep facts and figures of all claims
  2. If you are going to use green terminology (i.e. environmentally friendly, carbon neutral) make sure you understand the definition and implications of the words you use
  3. Do not promote your environmental credentials if you have a critical relationship (i.e. supplier, customer, partner) with an organisation that has a very large and direct impact on the environment
  4. Do not retrofit a green marketing strategy to a product or service that has not been specifically designed to have environmental attributes

If you plan to communicate your green credentials, we highly recommend you read our article: Green Marketing – How to win the hearts and minds of your customers 

About the Author Staff Writer

Our staff writers come from all over the world, but one thing unites them - their passion for sustainability.

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