What is "Greenwashing"

by Lawton Brothers | Apr 10, 2023


Put simply, "greenwashing" is the exaggeration of a company’s environmental credentials. This is when an organization spends more time and money marketing itself as environmentally friendly than on its efforts to minimize environmental impact. This deceitful tactic has been coined since 1986 and is designed to mislead consumers who prefer to purchase from environmentally conscious brands. 

In the cleaning industry, greenwashing is not only dishonest but can harm consumers’ health and further damage the environment. Knowing how to spot products that are being greenwashed is essential in keeping your business eco-friendly, and your customers safe. 

How to Spot Greenwashing

Brands can say almost anything they want to sell their products, oftentimes using natural imagery and vague terms and slogans to mislead consumers.

  1. Look for certification. When examining products to determine their sustainability, always check the label. Credible industry-wide certifications include: LEED, Green Business Bureau, B Corp, USDA Organic, WELL, Energy Star, ISO 14001, GRI, EDGE, Fair Trade USA Certification, PEER, and Green Seal. A company can say a product is “natural and organic” on its label, but if there isn’t a certification to back it up, it is likely a false claim.
  2. Be aware of imagery. Many companies will use natural imagery and earth tones (like blue, green, and brown) on their packaging to imply that their product is environmentally friendly. Be extra careful around products that are designed to look appealing.
  3. Identify vague claims and “green” buzzwords. Words such as: eco-friendly, green, all-natural, non-toxic, plant-based, raw, pure, or healthy are all used on greenwashed products. Due to the overuse and commodification of these words, they have lost their true meaning. With many of these terms, there is no way to verify or prove their validity. Vague claims like “better for the environment” cannot be substantiated and also lack an initial comparison point – this product is “better for the environment” compared to other brands? Or compared to a previous iteration of the product? Always investigate claims made on packaging by looking at the label, product description, and manufacturer’s website. Any claims that are not backed by factual evidence or third-party verification should be dismissed, as well as those that are vague and lack specificity. 

    Tips from the Pros

    At Lawton Brothers, we know a thing or two about clean. Whether you’re looking to revamp your cleaning routine or hoping to get new equipment, we have just the product to suit your needs. Give us a call today and ask about a free cleaning audit at: 800.432.0813. 

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