It’s Time To Put A Stop To Greenwashing

We are living in a day and age where everyone around us is talking about sustainability, clean living and green initiatives.

Today, it is woke to love the environment. Our social media feeds are flooded with #gogreen and #greenliving posts. At the time of writing, there are more than 5 million #gogreen and some 1.5 million #greenliving posts on Instagram. And people have used #green over 106 million times on Instagram so far. 

While it is an important conversation that must go on, unfortunately, many brands and corporations are just “greenwashing” their image by using this cause as a marketing gimmick to build their reputation and increase revenue.

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Again, the fact that we are talking about the environment and spreading awareness about sustainability and a greener planet is important and should continue. But the real question here is – are we really being responsible or just using nature as a prop for commercial gain?

According to a study, in the year 2009, more than 2,700 products claimed to be green while in 2010 the number rose to over 4,700. The study further reveals that in the year 2010, around 95% of the consumer products claiming to be green were not green at all!

Greenwashing Might Be Trending Now But Corporations Have Been Doing It For Decades

Greenwashing is not a new concept. In the mid-1960s, the “go green” movements gained momentum, and big companies and multinational corporations started rebranding themselves as endorsers of environmentally friendly products and services.

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April 1970 saw the historic celebration of the first Earth Day worldwide and numerous companies started advertising themselves as environment-friendly. A report suggests that public utilities spent more than 300 million dollars in green endorsements. This was around eight times more than the money that was spent on pollution reduction research at that time.

By the 1980s, this became a common practise and the term “greenwashing” was coined by environmentalist Jay Westerveld to describe companies that overstate the environmental benefits of their products and services.

Found Guilty: From Coffee Chains To Fashion Brands

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Recently, multiple cases of greenwashing where big brands that make these false claims have come to light. Last year, Starbucks introduced a new straw-less lid in response to increased calls for banning plastic straws. It was later revealed that the straw-less lid contained even more plastic than the old straw and lid put together.

Earlier this year, UK-based fashion brand Boohoo announced that they are banning the use of wool in their clothes only to reverse their decision within hours. Later, reports revealed that Boohoo had no real wool products in their stock at all. It turned out that they were selling fake fur products that may be even worse for the environment because it is made using non-biodegradable plastic.

While the trend of greenwashing has been going on for decades, the time has come for us to make a change, before we destroy the world we live in. With global issues like population explosion, depleting natural resources, flora and fauna going extinct and the ever-increasing global warming- it is about time that we woke up and took responsibility for our actions and inactions.

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Climate Change Is Real

We need to realise that climate change is real, and it is happening right now. According to NASA, earth’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century. It states that most of the warming has occurred in the past 35 years, with the five warmest years on record taking place since the year 2010.

There are 2.5 million #climatechange posts live on Instagram right now. The momentum is great, but it needs the right direction. If big corporations and governments genuinely start making strides, we can make the best use of this ongoing dialogue and help save the planet.

Earth Is Turning Into Piles Of Trash- Land, Air And Water

According to a World Bank report, the amount of solid waste generated globally will nearly double by the year 2025, going from around 3.5 million tonnes to over 6 million tonnes per day. Significant land area is covered in trash and this is turning into a global crisis. We haven’t spared our waterways either.

I recently discussed in an article about how whales are dying all over the world due to increasing water pollution. Furthermore, air pollution is so bad that countries like India and Nepal are covered in blankets of dust particles or smog during winters.

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We need to take these signs seriously. Using biodegradable materials, banning the use of single-use plastic, introducing responsible waste management, deforestation and pollution control have become more relevant globally.

Big and small companies and corporations need to stop greenwashing and start behaving responsibly. And, as ‘aware‘ consumers, we need to read beyond the packaging. We need to go through the labels and see if what is being sold to us as “green” is actually so and not a cheap marketing ploy.

We all need to come together, buyers and sellers alike and focus on a plan of action towards creating a healthier planet.

This post was first published on Lifestyle Collective.

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About Surabhi Pandey 283 Articles
A former TV Presenter at Doordarshan Delhi​, Surabhi is the author of 'Nascent Wings' and 'Saturated Agitation'. She is a freelance journalist focused on Lifestyle and Social commentaries. She has been writing in this space for six years. Her work has appeared in numerous media outlets, including the Times of India, YP SG, Lifestyle Collective, Youth Ki Awaaz and Re:ad Poetry among others. She also writes Tech articles that have appeared on Tech Collective, Kr Asia, SBO.SG, SYNC PR, Entrepreneur and e27. She is the founder of The Vent Machine.

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