Opinion: Greenwashing endangers sustainable practice

As consumers, it is critical we are knowledgeable about the products we purchase and their environmental impact. Unfortunately, product decisions have become convoluted as green advertising replaces green production.

Greenwashing — the masquerade of false environmentally sound practice — is an unsettling reality for green-minded consumers. 

For example, a company may not manufacture sustainably — such as environmentally damaging production and disposal techniques — but will choose nature-themed marketing to display their product. Essentially, this company is using psychology to their monetary advantage.

Several products and companies may exhibit “sustainable” exteriors, but this does not ensure their persona translates into action — so how can we discern the truth from the lies? While the situation is less than ideal, there are ways to bypass this unfortunate situation.

Green certification — a third-party seal of approval — is absolutely essential in deciding which products are sustainable. Rather than relying on buzz-word slogans like “natural” or “organic,” consumers should thoroughly read the label for specific ecological credentials.

For instance, credentials such as USDA Organic, Green Seal Certified, and Non-GMO Project Verified, are examples of reliable labels. These organizations have websites for consumers to assess their ecological standards, as well. 

Luckily, companies will showcase these credentials, making it simple for consumers when deciding which companies to support. 

With natural and organic signatures covering a multitude of products, it can be tough to make decisions — especially as greenwashing becomes a popular advertising tactic.

Due to the rise in incidence, it is ultimately on the consumer to adequately research before purchasing. Anyone looking to pursue environmentally friendly companies will need to educate themselves on several ecological labels and deduce from their analysis.
While this is easier said than done — requiring too much effort on the individual rather than big business — it is important to recognize that greenwashing is not illegal. In order to combat this issue, individuals will need to step up and recognize false advertising, and then support companies that meet ecological standards.