Green Washing - 101
Green washing, a term that not too long ago was rarely used and still today a lot of people will be reading about it for the first time right here! But just because it's not widely talked about doesn't mean that it's not happening and is happening to you.
What Exactly Is Green Washing And Why Is It So Bad?
Green Washing is when a brand, company or product is misrepresented or misleading about how environmentally sound they are. These companies take advantage of the fact that we as consumers want to choose green, toxic free and eco friendly products to bring into our homes. Obviously we don't want to clean our homes with toxic chemicals or pollutants. But they're getting away with selling us toxic products paraded around as being "green".
There are quite a few ways that companies are using green washing tactics that this journal entry could go on for days. We know how important time is for everyone nowadays so we're separating this issue into as many entries as we deem fit until we've fully disclosed every green washing tactic in the book. After this session is over, you'll be fully schooled in the art of calling out the BS and never falling prey to another company trying to pull one over on you.
We Look And Sound Green, So We Are.
This is the simplest form of green washing and it's EVERYWHERE! When you think of eco friendly what comes to mind? The color green, leaves, trees or the words natural, eco, green and biodegradable right? If you saw any of these on a product you would assume that this product was people safe and planet friendly.
So let's break it down, anyone can make their packaging or product green. One of my favorite examples of this are the produce bags at Whole Foods. They're green, leading you the believe that it's an environmentally friendly plastic bag. Whole Foods has a reputation of being good for the planet so when you shop there you think you're doing your part but that green plastic bag is trash once it's done carrying your produce home.
This type of plastic is so flimsy that if it is even recyclable, it can only be recycled, at most, 1-2 times before it's made into such a lesser material you can't do anything with it. The best option is to bring your own reusable bags when you shop at your local grocery store.
Don't Be Fooled By Imagery.
Shampoo's, food labels, baby products, you name it, have seen an uptick in the amount of green branding over the years that it's almost comical. Take for instance, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Vegan Butter. This packaging is covered in green leaves invoking a sense of environmental action from this company. You would surmise that they care about the planet but when you flip the product over you reveal that this product contains palm oil. The production of palm oil is a leading contributor to global warming.
While you initially get the warm and fuzzies from this product simply because of its packaging, their use of palm oil tells you that don't actually care that much.
I also would just like to mention that the word "Vegan" is plastered on this "butter" alternative.....shhh don't tell anyone but it has always been vegan. They're using the new wave of people who are vegan curious to brand and sell their product to a group of people who choose to be vegan not just for animal rights but because they care about their diet not impacting climate change.
Words Are Just BLAH BLAH BLAH
I love a good product when I see it but that doesn't often happen out at our traditional big box shopping centers. Companies throw around the words natural, bio, clean, toxic-free, free from and the list goes on.
But you've made it this far so you're wising up to their tricks. The world "natural" isn't regulated so practically anything can be labeled as natural. There are naturally occurring toxins like ammonia and chlorine. In theory, a product can label itself "natural" while still containing harsh and toxic chemicals.
"Free-From" is a fun one commonly found these days on nail polish bottles. They'll usually tell you if they're free from 3, 5, or even 10 harsh chemicals. Funny thing is, they could be free from ANY of the long list of chemicals traditionally used in nail polish. So you really have to do you research about which ones are being omitted from different formulas and decide what you're comfortable with for you personally.
This is another one to be wary of. What does it even mean? In Europe, this label actually has a meaning. When a product claims to be "bio" they're saying that at least 95% of the ingredients of agricultural origin come from organic farming (example based on a food item). But here in the states we have no regulation for "bio". So does it mean biodegradable? Biological? Biopsy? You get the idea. It's a word that conjures up smog free lands and clean oceans but falls on deaf ears because you know better than to be deceived by this tactic.
This is just the beginning, the tip of the ever melting iceberg. It seems a shame that these tactics are being used by big companies to play on your heart strings to want to do better and buy better for the planet. That's why it's so so important to be educated on the actual facts. To know exactly how these brands are manipulating and using your desire for a cleaner future to line their pockets while simultaneously destroying the very planet you want to save.
Green Washing 201 - Coming Soon