Greenwashing: how to spot and avoid it

By Mara Jan 17, 2022

In a world where we all need to do everything we can to fight climate change, the demand for ‘eco-friendly’ products and services is booming. According to a survey by WWF, the popularity of Google searches relating to sustainable goods has increased by 71% globally since 2016. This has translated into growing pressure for organisations to demonstrate green credentials.

In order to capitalise on a consumer’s desire to make more sustainable choices, several companies are increasingly using a marketing tactic called ‘greenwashing’. Essentially, greenwashing means misleading customers or stakeholders into believing a company or product is doing more for the environment than it is in reality. ‘Greenwashed’ products are simply marketed as more environmentally friendly without actually being any better for the environment.

Why is greenwashing harmful?

Companies who use greenwashing will spend more resources on making sure you know that their products are green and eco-friendly rather than implementing sustainable choices into their business practices.

Greenwashing has a real negative impact because it undermines companies that actually utilise sustainable practices and makes it harder for conscious consumers to make eco-friendly purchasing decisions. Moreover, it could erode consumer trust in genuinely sustainable brands in the long run.

How can I spot and avoid greenwashing?

Unfortunately, greenwashing has proven to be an effective marketing strategy; therefore, it isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon.

However, we can learn to make conscious buying decisions that only support brands that align with our eco-friendly values. Keep reading for five easy ways to avoid greenwashing.

1) Look for certifications and awards

If a company can’t provide verifiable data that backs up its green claims, you’ve likely spotted an example of greenwashing. For instance, if a company puts ‘natural and organic’ on their labels but doesn’t have a certification label, it is probably not organic.

Instead, you should look for reputable third-party certifications. Many factors determine eco-consciousness, but essential certificates involve ethical worker treatment, responsible material procurement, and waste management.

Businesses seek these certifications to promote their legitimacy as customers demand more transparency. Examples of popular third-party certifications to look for are Certified B Corporation, Carbon Trust, Fair Trade.

2) Think of whether the product category can be considered ‘green’

When buying certain products, a helpful way to spot greenwashing is to reflect on whether the product category is sustainable.

A company might be claiming to be greener than a competitor. Still, if the industry itself is unsustainable, it doesn’t make a difference, as they’re all detrimental to the environment (e.g. plastic bags and most single-use items).

3) Look for minimal recyclable packaging

With online shopping becoming more common, finding businesses that make environmental choices regarding packaging is critical.

If a company wants to be sustainable, it must consider the type of packaging and how much it uses. In many cases, companies using greenwashing tactics will still have their products in an unnecessary amount of unsustainable packaging, contradicting their green claims.

When you shop online, look for companies that use green packaging solutions, such as recyclable or biodegradable materials. These types of packaging have various advantages, from reduced greenhouse gas emissions to less plastic in the ocean. This information will be easy to see on a sustainability-focused brand’s website but likely more difficult to find on a greenwashed website.

4) Do your research and shop with an intention

Another way to make environmentally friendly choices is to research the brands and products you plan to purchase before shopping. That way, you can go for that particular item and not fall for other greenwash advertising at the shop.

If a company is not transparent with its practises and claims, it’s usually because they aren’t environmentally friendly. If you’re unsure, don’t be afraid to reach out to them and question their claims.

5) Buy fewer things

In reality, reducing the amount you buy and reusing what you have is the best way to ensure that you are being sustainable.

Before buying something new, always ask yourself if you really need it, and, if so, try to go to charity shops and secondhand markets.

You should also learn to look after the items you already own: some simple efforts, like a visit to your local tailor and dry cleaner, can significantly increase the lifespan of your possessions and help you reduce your carbon footprint. For more tips on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle, read our blog post.

What is Moixa doing to be sustainable?

At Moixa, apart from delivering products aimed at enabling more clean energy on the grid and accelerating customer adoption of renewable technologies, we also are committed to reducing the strain we are putting on our planet’s resources. Therefore, we aim to develop and deliver products and services that are as sustainable as possible.

As a clear sign of our desire to integrate climate action across our business practices, we have signed the SME Climate Commitment, committing to cutting our carbon emissions in half by 2030 and to reaching net zero by 2050. We have also created an internal environment committee to discuss ideas and experiences and develop Moixa’s own environmental policy, targeted at further strengthening our company’s efforts while influencing climate action in society.

Our commitment to sustainability also includes reviewing our supply chain to ensure that we are always following best practices to reduce our carbon emissions. This ranges from ensuring ethical sourcing to reducing waste by simplifying processes and making sure that the recycling process is as efficient as possible.

When an optimised battery from Moixa comes to the end of its life and needs to be removed from one of our customers’ homes, we will send a Moixa Accredited Installer to take it back, free of charge, for treatment and recycling.

Our batteries use Lithium-ion cells, and these must be disposed of appropriately. Lithium-ion batteries contain metals and other materials that can be recovered, processed, and re-used to build a more sustainable economy and reduce the mining of these materials. When the battery has reached the end of its life, we will send it to an approved treatment operator/exporter and other waste electrical-electronic components to an approved WEEE treatment facility where they will recycle as much of the product as possible.

This is just a start, but we are keen to ensure that we continue our journey to net zero and that we practice what we preach to help build a future powered by renewable energy.