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Greenwashing: What It Is and What Can Be Done About It

Greenwashing - What It Is and What Can Be Done About It

Greenwashing: What It Is and What Can Be Done About It

In this day and age, companies realise just how important it is to invest in sustainable business practices and do their part in saving the environment. You've probably seen many initiatives from enterprises and organisations showing their support for sustainable projects. However, not all these companies are what they seem. Some of them are only pretending to care about the environment while still participating in nefarious and often destructive business practices. This is called Greenwashing. In this blog post, let's discuss what greenwashing is and the signs that a company or organisation is one.

What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is when a company or organisation tries to make itself appear to be more environmentally friendly than they really are. 

They might do this by making false claims about their products or practices or by hiding information that would show they’re not as green as they claim to be. 

Most greenwashing claims are false or misleading. They are often made without any evidence to back them up. Greenwashing can make a company look good to customers, even if it's not doing anything to help the environment.

The term greenwashing was actually coined in 1986 by Jay Westerveld, an environmentalist, in one of his essays that year. In that essay, he described a strange practice in the hotel industry where they place notices in bedrooms promoting the reuse of towels as an effort to "save the environment".

However, those notices had little to no effect, and these institutions weren't exe rting any effort to enforce those notices. The only thing it did was to reduce laundry costs for those hotels. He concluded in his essay that the real objective behind the notices was to increase profits and not to save the environment. He then labelled this and other similar practices "environmentally conscientious" or "greenwashing."

What Are the Motives behind Greenwashing?

There are a few reasons why companies might greenwash their products or services. Firstly, it can be a way to appeal to more environmentally-conscious consumers. Companies also use greenwashing as a way to distract from other, more harmful environmental practices that the company is engaged in. Finally, it can be used to create a false impression that the company is doing more to combat climate change than it actually is.

How Can You Spot Greenwashing?

Greenwashing claims can be hard to spot. They often sound too good to be true. Here are some things to look for:

  • Vague or unsubstantiated claims
  • Use of greenwashing terms like "natural," "eco-friendly," or "sustainable."
  • Lack of third-party certification
  • Lack of transparency about environmental practices
  • Misleading labelling (e.g. "100% recycled" when only a small percentage of the product is recycled)

Greenwashing can also take the form of "astroturfing," which is when a company creates a fake grassroots movement to support its environmental claims.

What Can Be Done to Stop Greenwashing in Australia?

If you see any of these red flags, do more research to see if the claims are true. If you can't find any evidence to support them, it's likely that the company is greenwashing.

The second step is to speak up! If you see a company making false or misleading green claims, let them know. You can do this by leaving a review on their website, contacting them directly, or even telling your friends and family about what you've found.


As consumers, we can help to stop greenwashing by being informed and discerning. When considering purchase decisions, take the time to do your research and ask questions. If a claim sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And if you're not sure about a claim, don't be afraid to ask for more information or seek out independent advice. By being informed and making purchase decisions based on genuine environmental credentials, we can help to create a market for truly sustainable products and services and put an end to greenwashing.

If you want to buy products from a company that advocates for sustainable living and actually practices what it preaches, then check out our products at The Living Co. We provide organic and natural alternatives for sustainable living, from cleaning products to natural evolution foods and sustainable homeware. Here at The Living Co., we provide products with little to no waste that make clean living more enjoyable and accessible. Purchase our products today and show your support for our environment!



Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash



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