How to Avoid Greenwashing

Written by Morgan Egan

It seems that now more than ever, companies are using their platforms to show how eco-friendly they are. From sustainably made fabrics to biodegradable soap, there’s an eco-friendly swap to pretty much everything now. But how much of it is actually true? Unfortunately, a lot of products that say they’re sustainable end up doing more harm than good. So, we’re here to set the record straight, and help you make informed shopping decisions so you can avoid greenwashing.  

What is greenwashing? 

Greenwashing is when a company markets something as sustainable when it’s actually not. Ever been confused by fast-fashion brands who label their clothes as eco-friendly? Yeah, so have we.  

Since more people are aware of issues like climate change and the plastic waste crisis, companies are jumping on the chance to market their products as a sustainable option, even when they’re far from it. This way, they can pretend they have the green credentials their customers want, without putting in any effort.  

This becomes a major problem – not just because companies aren’t telling the truth, but also because consumers are misled to buy something that ends up being harmful to the planet.  

This then creates more confusing surrounding sustainability. It turns out, 62% of people believe that greenwashing confuses their efforts to help the planet. And we can see why! It’s hard navigating with a bunch of false information floating around. 

But is greenwashing common? According to a study published by the European Commission, 42% of cases had some form of greenwashing. That’s a lot of false information! 

So, why would companies want to greenwash? Some of the reasons could be because of pressure from consumers and the government to go green, extra kudos for their brand reputation, and a possible increase in revenue from selling popular products.  

So, how should you navigate greenwashing in day-to-day life? Read on to get some tips.  

How to spot greenwashing 

With all this greenwashing going on, how can you tell if a brand is truly sustainable or not? Here are a few ways to spot the fakers. 

Don’t take their word for it  

Buzzwords like ‘sustainable’ and ‘eco-friendly’ aren’t regulated, which means anyone can use them. Instead, look for third-party accreditations. 

Use your own common sense  

Are you buying a set of bamboo straws that are packaged in plastic? Shopping for a sustainably made jumper for a whooping £7.99? Chances are, these products are as sustainable as a plastic bottle, no matter how ‘green’ they claim to be. 

Research, research, research 

You’ve got the power of the internet at your fingertips, so use it! Look at trusted sources to see what brands they recommend, and others to avoid. As well, look at the brand as a whole. A brand might claim to be sustainable, but only carry a small line of green products within their large plastic-filled range. 

Know your packaging 

Packaging is another way companies can skew their sustainability credentials. Just because something is biodegradable doesn’t mean it’s sustainable! Here are some common packaging types and what they mean. 

  • Biodegradable – When a material is labelled as biodegradable, it means it will eventually break down, but that doesn’t mean it’s breaking down into something that’s good for the planet. Plastic bags can be called ‘biodegradable’ but they leave behind harmful micro-plastics!   
  • Compostable – A material that is compostable will eventually break down into 100% organic materials and will not release any harmful chemicals or microplastics. 
  • Industrially compostable – A material that is industrially compostable will break down into 100% organic materials, but only with the use of a specific industrial machine. 
  • Home compostable – A material that is home-compostable will break down into 100% organic materials in a home compost bin in under 90 days. 

Let’s start at the source 

Now, with all this talk about what to do at the end of a product’s life, it’s important to remember the beginning too – namely all the unnecessary plastic packaging that’s being created in the first place!  

In June 2022, the Big Plastic Count held a nationwide survey to help tackle the plastic crisis. They found that households threw away around 66 pieces of plastic per week, totalling to 3,432 pieces of plastic every year.  

To make matters worse, 62% of the recorded plastic was either not collected, or poorly collected for recycling, which means it’ll get dumped into landfills or incinerated.  

This leads us to the question – what if we didn’t have to rely on so much plastic getting made, and instead, used what we already have? 

The solution 

When it came to sustainable deliveries, we didn’t want to give you milk in ‘recyclable’ plastic bottles, or industrially compostable plastics. We wanted to actually do good – for both you and the planet. 

That’s why we use glass bottles, which can be reused around 25 times – that’s 25 plastic bottles that don’t have to go into landfill!  

And that’s just one glass bottle. You can quickly see on your own plastic counter how much plastic you’ve been able to save while on our milkround.  

Want to learn more? Click below! 

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