What is Greenwashing and how does it work - Green Ecologist

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How Greenwashing works and its techniques with examples

In this article we delve into one of the most painful learning processes in the transition to a sustainable economy, the concept of Greenwash Y what is he Greenwashing and its techniquesfrom the perspective of the companies before their clients.

The companies that have supported their policy from the sale of products and services based on an artificial lifestyle and more than bulky profits, have not always played fair in their sales strategies in front of their clients or consumers with the intention of anticipating the market.

Companies use techniques and strategies of green marketing where they sell us an idea when in reality the product does not always comply with that external image that we observe. It is reinterpreting the image to sell more!

The Greenwashing concept, is an English term ("Green" means "green" + "washing" means "washed") used to view the bad practices that some companies carry out when presenting a product or any proposal like respectful to the environmentalthough in reality, it is not.

It is a "makeup" for the observer or potential client to give a false idea about something that is not actually as "green" as it appears, nor do they practice the circular economy in their companies.

How does Greenwashing work?

The Greenwash is an evolution of the traditional concept of the Witewhash or the image bleaching. Here comes into play highlighting culturally positive values of companies or institutions that in many cases have little ethics or crimes that affect other people or institutions and that through this method, seek to clean their image so as not to lose or regain customers.

The greenwash concept it is understood as inducing the public towards error or different perception, emphasizing the environmental credentials of a company, person or product when these are irrelevant or unfounded ”.

In short, it is the use by companies or any institution of the susceptibility and morality of people who consume the preference of certain services or products, which reinforce their ethical and moral consistency to develop a behavior that from the social perspective it is accepted, mainly based on the values of sustainability and protection of the environment or the Earth.

companies apply green marketing with the intention of improving their sales

This concept was nicknamed by David Bellamy, on the occasion of the celebration of Earth Day in 1990. At that time he already highlighted the hypocrisy of some companies, which placed their products accompanied by wonderful and beautiful images of nature, highlighting a commitment to the environment that was really questionable.

In the following image we can seewhat are the Greenwashing techniques facing users - customers from a marketing perspective.

In an effort to how to prevent greenwashing, both to warn customers and companies, we can find it in a relevant report that gives us the Keys to how Greenwashing works from a guide of interest"Understanding and Preventing Greenwash: A Business Guide" (Access from HERE). An interesting material that shows the reality of Greenwash It is practiced in some developed countries, where some recommendations are also shown. 10 simple ways to identify them….

How to recognize Greenwashing?

  • An ambiguous language: terms or words without a clear concept or rationale. For example: friends of the environment.
  • The "green products" are widely used in the field of cleaning or cosmetics. Companies that offer products that clean to perfection due to their effectiveness with green colors and images of nature and "freshness", but that in their production, seriously pollute the waters of nearby rivers. Or they offer an image of perfect health (Cosmetics), but in reality only for those who use them, because to produce them large amounts of chemical components are necessary that obviously pollute. Or an example of CocaCola Life… Super healthy!

  • Suggestive images: An example is those planes that leave a trail of flowers in the air when we see them circulate.
  • The irrelevant messages: That little ecological attribute is emphasized, not to mention the only one in products and objects where all the others are not so at all.
  • When referring to "best in class." Declare that one brand or company is significantly more sustainable or green than the others from its category perspective. It is now widely used in annual company reports emphasizing that "we are the most sustainable" or "we have polluted less than the companies"
  • We look at the product as a whole. The perfect example is nuclear plants that are promoted as low in emissions for their energy efficiency, but that use high-risk and polluting fuels in their goal of obtaining energy or are associated with other brands to achieve a goal. Or tobacco … "it is an organic product, from the land itself" or the use of colors such as "blue" on the packs … Is it healthier?

  • The use of confusing language including words or phrases that allude to sustainable or environmental benefits and that in some cases, only professionals in the sector could understand.
  • The imaginary and dangerous friendships. Large companies may have divisions or a "sub-company" that does comply with sustainability and environmental standards (It has a "green" image) but that presents a producer from another subsidiary of the same company, which is not so green for not say nothing.
  • Without scientific evidence or endorsed by official bodies … "I could confirm that …" or "could be the best product …" Trying to avoid those images of contaminated environments with which they are normally associated.
  • When it is directly a lie: data, reports or messages, totally made up.

Another indicator of interest is… «The Sins of Greenwashing» by a Canadian environmental marketing consultancy TerraChoice, which classified seven ways to identify Greenwash (Access from HERE) and which in general covers more or less the previous 10 points.

The Ways to Identify Greenwash, are mainly through the visual comunicationHowever, this is only a part of the recommendations that companies could improve to be more consistent with their final and target clientele.

Developing an honest relationship is a priority that should be raised for the benefit of all. Identifying them is useful and necessary for the person - clients who is gradually transformed into responsible consumers - instead of using green marketing techniques.

Greenwaching Examples

Nobody wants to be on the list and be tagged as aGreenwashing example, but the reality is that companies have reached an amazing subtlety to communicate and transmit without teaching us the background of their actions and produce many examples of green products mimitized.

From the Greenwashingindex portal (It no longer works) you can see many examples of advertisements with advertisements Greenwashingthat perfectly comply with the guidelines outlined above. They are companies on the outside "green" and on the inside "black."

We start with the names; Labels with the review of ecological, biological and organic, as well as their usual abbreviations ("bio", "eco", etc.), were protected so that they are not used fraudulently in food products that do not comply with European legislation ( HERE).

Do you remember the famous "bio", because the name had to change! … Although many of us continue with the mind of the healthiest product, in reality it is green marketing examples to "trick our mind."

Another well known case of example of GreenwashingIt is that of McDonalds, a company accused more than once of malpractice. The communication tries to sell that the obtaining of its raw materials is increasingly sustainable. In addition to painting many of its restaurants green and leaving aside the old red color that has always characterized it.

A little more convoluted we find them, for example, in the subject of bioplastics that are also widely used in advertising for wash the image of your products:

One issue is that the bottle can be recycled - which we assume it can - and another that it is made from plants instead of petroleum. They lead you to believe that it is an organic material that may be part of the compost, but the reality is that it is not. (We remember an article on how to make a homemade machine to recycle plastic)

Exceed the Greenwashing companies before that image wash or green wash, It does not necessarily mean bringing companies closer to a more environmentally sustainable and environmentally sustainable production, although ideally it should be so.

Business development must be valued from a sustainable perspective (See also the interesting article on blue or green economy), taking the sustainable aspects of the brand or company or even its weaknesses, to communicate them honestly to its customers and incorporate it into their evolution a more respectable ethic.

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