WTF is Greenwashing (and how to avoid it).

by Mairead Zielinski

Being eco friendly isn’t just for tree hugging hippies anymore. It seems like everyone has finally woken up and realised that the planet really is in a *lot* of trouble. And you’re looking to do your bit. 

You’ve tried to go vegan (but who can give up cheese??), you’re recycling all your rubbish, and now you want to put your money where your mouth is, and start buying from sustainable brands only (at least you’ll try, you swear).

But it’s not all plain sailing. Companies have realised that people are being increasingly conscious of the environment, and appear to be changing their products to be more eco friendly. ‘That’s a good thing, right?’ I hear you ask. 

Wrong. In short, a lot of these brands are just straight up… lying to you. Instead of truly changing their practices to be more sustainable, often companies 'greenwash' their products by using false marketing or misleading information to simply trick consumers into thinking they are.

To celebrate Zero Waste July, we’re going to be giving you some tips and tricks over the next few weeks to help you lessen your impact on the earth. But we need to start with how to not be pulled in by clever advertising, and end up adding to the profits of brands who are spending more time and money on ‘green’ marketing ploys, instead of truly making the effort to take responsibility and make a change.

I know, at this point you’re probably covering your ears. What beloved brands are going to have to be cancelled now? But we’re not here to make you hate anyone; just to give you the tools to think critically and make sure you’re not doing more harm than good. While it’s important to be aware of greenwashing, we don’t want you walking around being overly suspicious (constantly side-eyeing everything is not a good look). 

A lot of brands are doing their best, and nobody’s perfect! You can’t expect any company to be 100% sustainable, but we don’t like liars, so we’ll give you some tips on how to avoid having the wool pulled over your eyes.

  • Look at the bigger picture.
  • Many brands will try to distract you from what’s really going on by feeding you pretty pictures and encouraging statements. Sure, BP’s new slogan assures us they’re ‘working to make energy greener’. That sounds nice, doesn’t it? But really, over 96% of all the money they spend is still on oil and gas (and remember when they tried to rename themselves ‘Beyond Petroleum’? *eye roll*). That’s greenwashing.

  • Beware of buzzwords!
  • Speaking of misleading claims, be careful blindly trusting eco friendly ‘buzzwords’. Brands will throw in ‘organic’, ‘natural’, ‘green’ and ‘earth friendly’ to their product names and descriptions, just to name a few. These words could mean anything, and aren’t regulated in advertising. So don’t just pick up an earthy toned packet like a moth to a flame, and smile happily because it says it’s good for the environment on the front - double check it’s not just all style and no substance.

  • We love transparency.
  • As we said, research is king; it’s the only way to find out what companies to trust. And the more transparent a brand is, the less they’ve got to hide. So get out your laptop, and do some googling. Can companies really back up the claims they’re making? Or are they just making vague statements they can’t prove; that’s probably greenwashing.

    Now, we’re not saying we’re perfect. At Made by Sunday, we are still learning, and we know we have a long way to go! But we’re putting our resources into improving our products, and always making an effort to stay sustainable and transparent. 

    We’ve changed our bottles from plastic to glass, our mailer bags are recyclable and our product pouches are resealable and reusable! Oh, and don’t forget our aluminium containers - they can be recycled over and over, and look great while doing it. 

    When it comes to plastic, we recognise that even recyclable plastic isn’t all that earth friendly, and are currently looking into other options. But let me explain. one, we source our bottles from a domestic manufacturer instead of an international one. that makes it more expensive, but its transportation creates a much smaller carbon footprint, which is equally as important to us. Second, they’re also postal friendly so we can ship them to you in the most earth friendly way.

    Generally speaking, we really try and minimise packaging in all areas, like not using bubble wrap or external boxes for our bottles, that sort of stuff. Oh and we have carefully thought about our packaging designs to maximise the density of our products, and ship’em in an efficient way. Take that carbon footprint!

    As a young brand, we’re doing everything we can to balance sustainability and functionality and tbh, sometimes it’s difficult, like really difficult. But hey, we love a challenge and we’re committed to sourcing and producing our products in a sustainable way. Let’s do this!

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