Greenwashing: Don't Believe the Hype

Sustainability is the latest marketing buzzword and big business. But with it comes the pervasive practice of greenwashing. Find out how to avoid it.

Ever gone into a shop and picked up a bottle of sunscreen, a lipstick, shampoo or whatever, because you spotted the words ‘clean’, ‘green’, ‘organic’ or natural’ on the label? But, then you turn the bottle around (is that non-biodegradable packaging?) look at the ingredients and find the product riddled with parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, microplastics, heavy metals, allergens, irritants and a bunch of other endocrine disrupting, potentially carcinogenic, toxic and polluting ingredients?

Or, have you ever bought a garment from a brand claiming to be sustainable, biodegradable or made from eco-friendly fibre, only to find out it was made from unsustainable materials like plastic, dyed with toxic dyes, and likely manufactured in a sweatshop with appalling labour conditions? This is greenwashing.

Sustainability is the latest marketing buzzword and by 2025, the global green technology and sustainability market is expected to reach US$36.6 billion, more than triple what it was in 2020. According to a Mckinsey study, “Fashion’s New Must Have: Sustainable Sourcing At Scale”, online searches for “sustainable fashion” tripled between 2016 and 2019.

In the Covid-era, as more people ponder the impact their consumer choices have on the health of the planet and humanity, sustainable products are set to become more alluring for consumers. This means big business, and a lot of companies are, of course, jumping on the sustainability bandwagon, many of them prioritising profit over sustainability, and taking advantage of well intentioned consumers.

What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is misleading marketing, where a pro