What Is Greenwashing?

What Is Greenwashing?

By Kate Kinloch-Anderson

With so many companies partnering with COP26 this year, and many other organisations claiming to be eco-friendly, we’ve heard hundreds of pledges promising greener production of goods. But how true are these promises?

What does Greenwashing actually mean?

Greenwashing is a term used to describe a marketing technique in which companies provide misleading (not fully true) or exaggerated (over the top) information about aims, policies and products that persuade customers that they are environmentally friendly.

What are the effects?

The most harmful aspect of greenwashing is that it can trick customers into acting unsustainably (not doing the right thing to help the climate) without even knowing. Seeing that a product is eco-friendly will likely make more people want to buy it. However, if this is false information it can have negative implications (bad things) on the environment. The reputation of the company itself will be negatively impacted if they are caught out lying.

Hm... lots of cereal and bottled water. I think someone tipped off the local grocery store community that Comic Con was going to be in town.


Many companies will colour their packaging green to give off the impression that a product is environmentally friendly. Yet, this isn’t always true. Word choice used by corporations can also mislead us. Statements such as “all-natural”, “earth friendly” and “organic” are often used but these cannot be true without evidence. Companies like Fiji Water, Shell and Coca Cola are all guilty of this, as seen below. 

How can we stop this?

There are many solutions which could help to prevent greenwashing. Having groups who can verify (check) a company can help customers to identify the environmentally friendly products. It’s helpful to be doubtful when buying ‘sustainable’ products to ensure you find legitimate items. If you think a company isn’t telling the truth it is important to question them. They should be clear in their response and outline the steps they are taking to be environmentally friendly. Of course not all companies are greenwashing, the majority (most) are genuinely doing their part to reduce their environmental impact and are helping to combat climate change.






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