When strolling down the aisles of your local grocery store, you’re bound to see green marketing, or the practice of advertising products based on their real or perceived sustainability. Green marketing can be seen in the green packaging with pictures of leaves and trees on it, with words such as “all-natural” or “clean” plastered on the front, and product names that remind us of nature. At first glance, this green marketing takeover may seem like a positive. More green marketing must mean more green products on our grocery store shelves, right? Unfortunately, this is far from the truth.
Greenwashing is a marketing ploy that uses green marketing techniques to make the brand appear eco-friendly and sustainability-focused when in reality they’re not. Through the use of misinformation, companies that greenwash their products deceive customers into purchasing their product over a truly sustainable, eco-conscious product. The difference between green marketing and greenwashing can be hard to detect, but there are a few branding techniques you can look out for to avoid purchasing a green-washed product.
1. Vague wording
Brands that want to appear sustainable without actually embodying sustainable practices will use vague words to deceive customers. Popular words used by brands that greenwash are: eco-friendly, green, and all-natural. These words can mean many things and don’t clearly describe how the product or company is sustainable. If a brand prioritizes sustainability, they don’t need to use ambiguous language to convince customers to buy their product.
2. Lack of proof
An important part of proving sustainability measures within a company or a product is through third party certifications. Certifications such as Global Organic Textile Certified (GOTS) and Fair Trade Certified are an important step taken by brands to provide external validation that the company’s claims are true. Despite third party certifications being important to support sustainability claims, not all certifications are credible or valid. To appear certified, companies may create their own company-based certification that is unverifiable. Before trusting a certification seen on a product, do a quick search to make sure the certification is from a third party and credible.
At Mightly, we use 100% organic cotton that is Global Organic Textile Certified (GOTS). GOTS ensures that the cotton used to make our clothing is free of toxic chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from the farming process to production. In addition, our partner factory is Fair Trade Certified, ensuring Mightly adheres to rigorous social, environmental and economic standards to protect the health and safety of workers. These certifications verify our sustainability claims and hold us accountable as a company.
3. Irrelevant claims
As the desire for green products increases amongst consumers, brands want to jump on the bandwagon to make a quick profit. Some brands may attempt to appear sustainable by focusing on a tiny green attribute of a product, yet implement zero sustainability efforts within the company. For example, a brand may say that their baby bottle is BPA free which is rather irrelevant seeing as BPA has been banned from these products for years. Another example is when a company highlights a small green characteristic of their product, but the company as a whole has no sustainability initiatives or goals.