Five ways Brands Can Talk about Sustainability without “Greenwashing”

If you are using sustainable practices in your business, it makes sense to let your customers know about this. However, with so many businesses currently claiming to be “green”, it is important that your claims are accurate and that you avoid “greenwashing”. This post is a summary of a Google article about 5 strategies that brands are adopting to avoid greenwashing in advertising and brand storytelling.

What is Greenwashing?

Wikipedia explains greenwashing as a ” form of marketing spin in which green PR and green marketing are deceptively used to persuade the public that an organization’s products, aims and policies are environmentally friendly”. The International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network (ICPEN) hosts an annual sweep of websites, which gives consumer authorities across the world the opportunity to target fraudulent, deceptive or unfair conduct online. In an international sweep, ICPEN members analysed almost 500 websites promoting products and services across a range of sectors, including clothes, cosmetics and food. To date, they found that 4 in 10 of these websites appeared to be using tactics that could be considered misleading and therefore potentially break consumer law about green claims.

The following are 5 strategies to avoid Greenwashing:

  1. Encourage behaviour change to a more sustainable practice related to your product, e.g. the Ikea ” Fortune Favours the Frugal” campaign. What to avoid: avoid over-simplification – suggesting that buying your products alone will fight climate change
  2. Present your product as a desirable, more sustainable alternative e.g. Quorn presented their meat-free products as an alternative to the less sustainable “meat and two veg”. What to avoid: Vague, inflated claims, make sure you can prove your claims
  3. Specialise in one aspect only. With some many aspects of climate change to be tackled, choose one aspect to focus on. In 2018, Iceland created an ad in collaboration with Greenpeace drawing attention to the impact of palm oil farming on rainforests — following the retailer’s decision to remove all palm oil from its own brand products. What to avoid: Avoid making a big story out of a small activity.
  4. Compromise. As in 3 above, the amount of change that is required can seem overwhelming, so choose one small step towards more sustainable practices/products and promote it as a small step, because it is better than doing nothing. Example: Sainsburys’ Halfest ad. What to avoid: Avoid promoting a small step as a big solution.
  5. The dreamer. With so much to be done for climate change, it may cause despair. According to the article, this is where advertising can provide some uplifting inspiration or fun, such as the Brewdog   “Make Earth Great Again” ad.

Help with your Sustainable Packaging Information

If you are keen to let you customers know that your carton packaging is sustainable, we can give you accurate information on the origins of your board and the composition of the eco-friendly window patch so that your sustainable packaging claims are true and not “greenwashing”

You can read the original article here.