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Greenwashing - What it is and how to Spot it

 Greenwashing - What it is and How to Spot it

⏱Read time: 3 minutes
Demand for eco-friendly products is on the rise, and along with it, companies are finding ways to take advantage of earth-conscious consumers. How do they take advantage of us? Greenwashing.

What is greenwashing?   

Greenwashing is when brands use sustainable advertising to convince consumers that their product is good for the environment when it's really not. The Girl Gone Green gives a good example of greenwashing in the video above. 

How to spot it  

If you see a product that makes claims about its environmental impact, search the internet to see if it's really making a difference, or just trying to fool you into paying for a product that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. There's a plethora of information on the internet, so if a major brand is running a sustainable ad campaign, you can probably find good information about it. 

My experience   

A while ago, I had experience with a greenwashing brand that tried to scam me. They messaged me on Instagram (if you haven't already, follow EarthPlex on Instagram by clicking this link) telling me that they're a sustainable clothing brand that wants to preserve the planet, and they donate to good causes. They asked me if I wanted to be a brand ambassador. That basically meant that I'd buy their clothing at a discounted price (it was overpriced, even with the discount) and send them pictures of people wearing the clothes. I checked their Instagram account, and I felt confident that I could trust them because they had about 37.5 thousand followers. I decided to think about it, and I told them that I'd let them know.
I'm lucky my mom's a lawyer because she's always skeptical about opportunities like this. She researched them and sent me a web page which drew me to the conclusion that they were probably trying to scam me. They don't provide evidence that their clothing is made from sustainable materials, and they don't disclose information about their donations. I decided to message them and ask the following questions:
  1. Is your clothing made sustainably?
  2. Which organizations do you donate to?
  3. How much of your revenue is spent on donations?
They wouldn't answer my questions, and they told me that if I let them know my order number, they'll include "an extra secret gift" for me. If that's not a red flag, I don't know what is.
Things only got weirder. When I looked at their Instagram page, I saw that the number of followers they had increased by almost three-thousand. Keep in mind, this was in a day. For a big brand or famous influencer, three-thousand doesn't sound like much, but this was about an eight percent increase in less than twenty-four hours. Clearly, they were buying followers, and this was greenwashing. If anything remotely like this happens to you, it's important to be skeptical.

The account has since been taken down.

The bottom line

People are out there to steal your money, and many of them will try to take advantage of you by pretending to care about things that are meaningful to you. If you're careful about what products you buy and recommend to people, you can do your part to resist greenwashing.
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