How to Identify Greenwashing and its Negative Impact


If you care about the impact your purchases have on the environment, it’s important you know how to identify greenwashing.

Greenwashing is the act of misleading consumers about environmental practices. When companies claim they’re an eco-business, or sell eco-products without doing the eco-ness required, they’re greenwashing buyers into believing they’re supporting sustainable.

Research proves people prefer sustainable businesses. In 2019, 83% agreed products should be made reusable or recyclable. Today, the statistics are on the rise.

Consumers want eco products. Sadly, there are businesses who exploit this need. Green credentials play a leading role in business as we become more concerned about the environment. Although many have the right intentions, not every business uses practices that minimise environmental impact.

How do you tell the difference between a green business and a dirty one? Keep these questions in mind to identify greenwashing:

Does the Business Sell Plastic Products?

If the business sells plastic products or products that contain plastic, could they have provided an equal product without?

There are many alternatives to plastic.

Swap plastic straws with stainless steel and cotton buds with bamboo options. Other material choices over plastic are:

● Plant sugars - used in packaging for soft drinks, water, fruit juices and alcoholic beverages
● Mushrooms - woven cellular microstructure from shrooms are resilient, biodegradable and water-resistant to use as an alternative to synthetic plastics and leather
● Fish waste and algae - why use man-made polymers when nature has other solutions readily available?
● Sunflower hulls - a waste product used to create bioplastics for office furniture and storage boxes

Tip: Know the harmful plastic substitutes, such as biodegradable single-use water bottles and clothes made from recovered plastics.  


Do they Use Vague or Misleading Words?

When companies are being deceitful, you can usually see it in their language.

Look out for insubstantial, general claims about eco-friendly products with no specifics. Irrelevant statements, like emphasising a green benefit when everything else isn’t, distract you from the bigger picture of your purchase. Don’t trust slogans like ‘all-natural’ without checking the ingredient list first.  

Is there Proof of Green Practices?

False claims are another issue.

If a business can’t back up the statements they’re making, it’s a huge red flag. Green businesses will have the credentials to prove it. Search for certification and supporting information.

Be wary about labels you can’t research. Certifications must be by a reliable third-party to be classified as an eco-product or business. When researching, check the standards section (or similar) to learn about their sustainable approaches.

A green mindset involves more than doing what’s obligated. People who really care about the environment go above and beyond, and stay away from dishonest marketing.

Some trustworthy eco seals are:

Australian Certified Organic
Rainforest Alliance Certified
Green Seal  

Are they Selling Single-Use Products?

Similar to the use of plastics, could the company offer an alternative to single-use products?

If you want to support sustainable products, avoid goods that require single-use parts too.   


How Much Waste do the Products Produce?

An eco-business will sell products that produce zero-waste.

Sustainable design is essential, but they must also use zero-waste practices. Look for reusable products to replace single-use materials and reduce waste.  

Have You Checked their Packaging?

Bypass pretty packaging and read the label first. Be aware of misleading labels though, 100% organic means nothing without supporting evidence.

Make sure you:

● Check whether they use plastic or foam packaging
● Don’t be fooled by ‘healthy’ colours like greens, browns and neutrals or suggestive pictures which may indicate an unjustified green impact 

How Long will the Products Last?

Reusable items are one of the ways you can combat destructive habits affecting the environment. They’re also designed to last the distance.

By making the switch, you decrease the amount of non-biodegradable products ending up in landfill and buy something you don’t have to replace in a week, month or years later.  

Are they a Dirty Business Selling Green Products

It’s not just the product that needs to tick green boxes, how it’s produced also matters.


● The environmental impact of the product and company, energy-efficient light bulbs made in a factory that pollutes rivers doesn’t make it a green product
● Material properties ie: are they durable and long-lasting?
● Low-energy content and consumption
● Material health; safe in manufacturing and use
● Sustainable manufacturing ie: reduction in transport volume and optimised supply chains

Remember: An eco-friendly company will be transparent about its processes, products and business.

Need help finding the eco-products? Speak with our team today or view our range.  

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