Greenwashing - what's it all about?

Posted by Hillary Miller on

Greenwashing definition:

Noun: A superficial or insincere display of concern for the environment that is shown by an organisation.

Verb: To conceal or gloss over the environmental damage caused by (an organisation or activity).

Source: Collins English Dictionary

Unfortunately there is a lot of greenwashing going on out there.  We try to do our best and make informed choices only to find ourselves facing another problem.  There are examples of bamboo toothbrushes (sounds good to me) which then come in plastic packaging (ah – I see the problem).  We hear talk of things being biodegradable (surely that’s good) but then find out they break down into micro plastics (really?? not good).  I even stayed in an “Eco-Hotel” (pre lockdown) that provided the guests with complimentary single use plastic water bottles and disposable plastic coffee pods.  Where’s that “face-palm” emoji when you need it?

So where’s the good news in this story? Well in November 2020 the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) here in the UK announced it was looking into how consumers can be better protected against inaccurate environmental claims.  They will be looking into a number of areas such as how environmental claims are made and whether these can be backed up with evidence.  Guidance is due to be published in the summer of 2021 with the overall aim of moving towards a “low carbon economy”.

Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, said:

“Increasing numbers of people are quite rightly concerned about the environment and want to play their part by being greener. Our role is to make sure that consumers can trust the claims they see on products for sale and don’t fork out extra for items falsely presented as eco-friendly.

We know that many businesses will be looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and we strongly support this, but the claims they make must not mislead consumers in the process. It’s important that people can easily choose between those who are doing the right thing for the environment and those who are not, so that businesses genuinely investing in going green can be properly rewarded by their customers.”

It’s not all bad though.  There are some great products out there which are sustainable, eco-friendly and generally everything you’d want from a plastic free shop.  There are also a lot of biodegradable and compostable products that work as you’d expect and break down in the way you’d hoped for, we just need to do our research.

In the mean time I’ll continue to look into all the products I stock and if you have any questions or concerns please get in touch.


Photo credit: David Pisnoy and Joe Woods, Unsplash

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