Hello again, Clare from The Refillery here with Octobers Eco Blog.
Following on from last month’s Blog on Palm oil and the dodgy methods big business engage in to appear “Eco”, this month we would like to talk about the phenomenon of “Greenwashing”.
Greenwashing is a marketing technique defined as “the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound”. For example, Companies involved in greenwashing behaviour might make claims that their products are from recycled materials or have energy-saving benefits. Although some of the ECO claims might be partly true, companies engaged in greenwashing typically exaggerate their claims or the benefits in an attempt to mislead consumers.
The term originated in the 1960s when the hotel industry devised one of the most blatant examples of greenwashing which can still be seen in hotels today. They placed notices in hotel rooms asking guests to reuse their towels to save the environment, but the real reason was to save them money on laundry costs. Even though the process had some environmental merit, they only cared about the £££.
Elements of the fashion industry, the food industry, Energy companies among many others make unsubstantiated claims of Sustainability or a commitment to environmental initiatives and values but can be unraveled with ease. Another trend is linking sustainability claims to other issues, such as personal health giving the perception that personal health and environmental sustainability are two sides of the same coin. Bottled water is a prime example: in terms of health, it is much better than fizzy sugary drinks but in terms of the environment and sustainability, It is ridiculous as it creates millions of tons of rubbish every year, much of which ends up in landfill or the oceans. Only 31% of plastic bottles are recycled and are created form fossil fuels.
How often have you seen a large supermarket extoll their eco promises in the media only to see the “not currently recycled” badge on most of their plastic packaging. Or a food product that has a flashy “can be recycled badge” on the packaging, but the product itself contains environmentally destructive palm oil. There are diesel cars with eco badges as they claim to use less fuel than traditional diesel engines, yet still use dirty diesel.
At the Refillery, we use eco terminology honestly. All of our products have been researched and sourced from reputable, ethically responsible suppliers and producers and we stand over that commitment. We have recently engaged with an Eco certification body called Eco-Merit to monitor and measure our carbon footprint as a business. Our lovely consultant Phil said we have the lowest carbon footprint of any business he has ever seen, so we are doing something right. With continuous improvement we hope to get as close to zero carbon as we possibly can.
So, beware of the greenwashers using buzz words like Eco, Sustainable, Recyclable or energy efficient. Companies that are truly Eco will be very willing to allow a deeper look at their certifications and will be very clear about the origins, processes and ingredients they use.
Thanks for reading.
Clare @The Refillery