What is Greenwashing

Greenwashing is the practice of making false or misleading claims about the environmental benefits of a product or service in order to appeal to consumers who are concerned about the environment. This can take many forms, such as using buzzwords like “sustainable” or “green” without providing any meaningful information about the environmental impact of the product, or making vague or exaggerated claims about the product’s environmental benefits.

Greenwashing can be confusing and misleading for consumers who are trying to make more environmentally-conscious purchasing decisions. It is important to be aware of greenwashing and to take steps to verify the sustainability claims made by brands before making a purchase. This can help ensure that you are supporting brands that are truly committed to sustainability, rather than those that are simply trying to capitalize on the trend.

Here’s a few things you can do to verify a brand’s claims before making a purchase:

  1. Research the brand. Look for information about the brand’s sustainability efforts on their website, social media accounts, and in any press or media coverage they have received.
  2. Check for third-party certifications. Look for certifications such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) that indicate the brand’s products or practices meet certain environmental standards.
  3. Look for transparency. A brand that is truly committed to sustainability should be transparent about their practices and supply chain. Look for information about how they source materials, treat workers, and dispose of waste.
  4. Reach out to the brand directly. If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, consider reaching out to the brand directly to ask about their sustainability efforts. A brand that is truly committed to sustainability should be willing to share this information with customers.
  5. Consider the product itself. Think about the lifecycle of the product you are considering purchasing. Is it made from sustainable materials? Can it be reused or recycled? Is it energy efficient? All of these factors can impact the product’s overall sustainability.

LEED Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

How To Check for Third-party Certifications

  1. Look for logos or labels on the product and packaging. Many certifications have logos or labels that brands can display on their products or packaging to indicate that they meet certain standards.
  2. Search online. Look for information about the brand and its certifications on the brand’s website, as well as on the websites of the certifying organizations.
  3. Look for lists of certified products or brands. Many certifying organizations maintain lists of products or brands that have been certified by their organization. You can often find these lists on the organization’s website or by doing a search online.
  4. Contact the certifying organization. If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, consider reaching out to the certifying organization directly to ask about the brand’s certifications.

It’s important to note that not all certifications are created equal. Some certifications may have stricter standards or be more widely recognized than others. If a brand claims to be certified, make sure to research the certification to understand what it means and whether it is meaningful in the context of the brand’s sustainability efforts.

There are many third-party certifications that have strict standards and are widely recognized, including:

  • LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design): This certification is awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council to buildings and communities that meet high standards for sustainability and energy efficiency.
  • FSC (Forest Stewardship Council): This certification is awarded to products that are made from materials that come from well-managed forests.
  • Rainforest Alliance: This certification is awarded to products that are grown or produced in ways that protect the environment and benefit local communities.
  • Fair Trade: This certification is awarded to products that are made by workers who are treated fairly and paid a living wage.
  • B Corp: This certification is awarded to companies that meet high standards for environmental and social responsibility.

It’s important to note that there are many other certifications out there, and the ones that are most widely recognized and have the strictest standards may vary depending on the industry and the specific sustainability issues that are relevant to that industry.