In our modern world, it can be difficult to know who to trust. With so much information available at our fingertips, it's hard to know which sources are credible and which ones are trying to pull the wool over our eyes. This is especially true when it comes to environmentalism. It seems like every day there's a new "green" product on the market, but how can we be sure that these products are actually sustainable? And how can we avoid falling for greenwashing? In this article, we will discuss how to shop sustainably and avoid being duped by deceptive marketing tactics. Thanks for reading!
Sustainable Shopping Made Simple
AVOID GREENWASHING THROUGH RESEARCH
When it comes to sustainability, the first step is to do your research. This means reading labels carefully and understanding what certifications mean. It also means staying up-to-date on the latest news in the sustainability world. Luckily, there are plenty of great resources out there that can help you with this (we'll list some of our favorites at the end of this article). Once you have a good understanding of what sustainable practices look like, you'll be able to spot greenwashing a mile away.
COMMON GREENWASHING TACTICS TO WATCH OUT FOR
One common greenwashing tactic is using vague or meaningless terms on product labels. Words like "natural," "eco-friendly," and "non-toxic" are often used without any real regulatory meaning. This can be misleading to consumers who are looking for products that meet certain environmental standards. When in doubt, always look up the definition of a term before making a purchase.
Another greenwashing tactic to watch out for is exaggerated claims. For example, a product might claim to be "100% recyclable" when only a small portion of it can actually be recycled. Or, a company might tout their sustainable practices while failing to address other areas of their business that have a large environmental impact (such as their supply chain). As a general rule of thumb, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Another way brands can greenwash is by masquerading as local by using imagery that looks wholesome or handcrafted while still being mass-produced, they aren't necessarily using 'green' colors to imply sustainability they might select packaging that looks earthy or artesian. The best way to determine if the brand is legitimately a small brand and not just a subsidiary of a conglomerate is to check the manufacturing address and note who has incorporated the product. A quick internet search will tell you whether this is a small company or corporation.
HOW TO VERIFY SUSTAINABILITY CLAIMS
To ensure you're not falling for greenwashing, it's important to verify sustainability claims made by brands. Here are a few steps you can take:
Look for third-party certifications: Trustworthy certifications like Fair Trade, USDA Organic, Energy Star, and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) indicate that a product has met specific environmental standards. Research these certifications and familiarize yourself with their criteria to make informed decisions.
Check for transparency: Look for brands that are transparent about their sustainability practices. They should provide detailed information about their supply chains, manufacturing processes, and environmental initiatives. If a company is hesitant to disclose this information, it could be a red flag.
Dig deeper into the company's values: Investigate the brand's overall commitment to sustainability. Do they have long-term sustainability goals? Are they actively working to reduce their carbon footprint? Look for reports, sustainability initiatives, and goals published by the company to assess their level of dedication.
Read customer reviews and ratings: Check online reviews and ratings to see what other customers have experienced with the product or brand. Look for reviews that specifically mention sustainability aspects to gain insights into the brand's practices.
Support ethical and local brands: Consider supporting local and smaller-scale brands that prioritize sustainability. They are often more transparent and accountable for their practices, and their smaller operations can have a lower environmental impact.
Utilize trusted resources: Stay informed by utilizing reputable resources dedicated to sustainability, such as environmental organizations, consumer advocacy groups, and eco-conscious blogs. These sources can provide valuable insights and guidance on sustainable shopping choices.
FAVORITE RESOURCES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS
Here are some trusted resources to help you stay informed:
A SOLUTION TO GREENWASHING
The best way to avoid greenwashing is to buy from brands that you trust. This means doing your research on a company's sustainability practices before making a purchase. Luckily, we've curated a list of verified sustainable brands for you, simply download the plugin and start shopping!
Sustainable Shopping Made Simple
Do you have any trusted sustainable brands that you shop from? We'd love to hear your thoughts!