Greenwashing: What It Is and Why You Should Avoid It

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What is Greenwashing and Why Should You Avoid It?

If you’re one of the many businesses looking to be more sustainable, we are proud of you! Unfortunately, some organizations talk the talk without walking the walk. There’s a specific term for this act: greenwashing. 

What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing refers to claiming to be environmentally friendly without doing the work to make it true. Dating back to 1986, this term has become ubiquitous in today’s culture. As more customers prioritize eco-friendly products, companies are sometimes tempted to greenwash them. But we’re here to tell you it is never a good idea.  

Why is Greenwashing Bad?

For one, lying (or omitting the truth) to your customers is never a good look. And in today’s digital world, finding the truth is easy. 

Greenwashing takes advantage of people’s noble search for sustainable products and practices. This act hurts confidence in green practices in general. Just as significantly, it undermines your brand image. While it may turn a profit in the short term, it’s bound to haunt you in the long run. 

Sadly, there are many greenwashing examples out there. In 2019, McDonald’s introduced paper straws which were later found to be just as unrecyclable as their plastic straws. 

Things That Companies Can Do to Avoid Greenwashing

You can take a couple of steps to avoid greenwashing and promote trust in your organization. 

Think About the Big Picture. If your packaging is recyclable, but your process leaks chemicals into the local water source, you’re not eco-friendly, and you’ll want to avoid labeling yourself as such. Think about your sustainability practices as an organization before making claims. 

Create a Sustainability Plan. If you haven’t prioritized corporate sustainability before, it’s not too late. Work as an organization to set goals and begin working towards them. 

Not sure where to begin? Close the Loop is here to help you assemble and execute a plan that works for your business’s unique needs. 

Show Your Proof. If – for example – you make claims about your carbon neutrality, you’ll need to show your customers the hard data verified by a third party. Having a neutral organization back your claims boosts customer confidence. 

Be Transparent. Don’t have the best track record in the past? Go ahead and own it. Then, show how you’re actively changing and the impact you have made (again, make sure it is data-driven and unbiased). 

Get Specific. Avoid terms like  “natural” or “recyclable*” without backing them up. These vague terms don’t give customers real confidence. And if they find your claims aren’t backed up, you will lose hard-earned brand loyalty. 

You Can Decide to Make a Difference

If you’re not sure how to fix greenwashing attempts made in the past, we can help. We believe the world deserves real, lasting change at Close the Loop. Partner with our team and stand by your word. Your present and potential clients will respect and appreciate it—our planet will, too. 

Are you feeling inspired to step up to the plate? Contact us today to begin. 

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