greenwashing herkennen

This way you can recognize greenwashing and do something about it

May 31, 2021Lieve op den Buijsch

Sometimes the grass is greener, because it’s fake.

We are doing more and more separating waste, keeping an eye on energy consumption and buying second-hand clothes. We also know that sustainable claims in the fashion and food industry are not always justified. But what do we know now about sustainability within the cosmetics industry? Because of the huge offer, consumers no longer see the wood for the trees and they no longer know who or what to believe. Because sustainability plays an increasingly important role in daily life, many brands are responding tactically to this and creating greenwashing† Never heard of it? We explain it to you. Greenwashing or literally translated 'green washing' is a marketing ploy that has often been used by brands in recent years. Roughly speaking, this means that consumers are misled because brands appear to be more sustainable than they actually are.

Avocado on the packaging

Greenwashing was born from the growing need to adopt a sustainable lifestyle. Many brands take advantage of consumers' good intentions to increase their profits. Research, done by students at the Hogeschool Rotterdam, shows that 93% of the respondents are more likely to purchase a product if it has a natural appearance. Brands respond to this, just think of a natural ingredient such as an avocado that is stated on the packaging. Greenwashing does not only take place at the product level. There are also companies that put a positive spin on bad environmental practices that happen in the background. 73% of the respondents are not aware of the large amount of brands that are guilty of greenwashing† The ignorance is great, which is why many brands can continue to do their thing.

Recognize greenwashing

Sometimes the grass is greener, because it’s fake. You now know what greenwashing is, but how do you recognize it? We give you a few tips.

Vague claims without evidence: Transparent brands do not lie about their practices. If you communicate something as a brand, you have to be able to prove it, right? If you have any doubts about the fairness of a brand, check it first or don't buy the product.

Exaggerated 'green' appearance and claims: The color green, images of natural ingredients or terms such as "natural", "sustainable" and "pure" do not always reflect the truth.

Check the quality marks: A quality mark can give you the wrong impression. Via the quality mark guide of Milieu Centraal you can check what a quality mark entails and which requirements a product must meet.

The sustainable property: Chances are that if a brand only emphasizes one sustainable characteristic, it is also the only sustainable thing about the brand.

Look critically at the price: It is cheaper to work with synthetic ingredients, such as microplastics. Natural alternatives simply have a higher price tag.

Now you know how to recognize greenwashing and what you can do about it yourself. But beware, we certainly don't want to mislead you. Fortunately, there are many brands that are transparent, can prove claims and have the right intentions. Many of these brands started with a higher purpose to make the world and people a little better.

This is an initiative of students at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences in collaboration with Sara Rosalie, Food for Skin, Loïs Lee Pure Skinfood, Smyle, AbbeyLAB and Abloom Skincare. #samentegengreenwashing

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