How to Avoid Greenwashing in Your Marketing and Branding

Today’s consumers are increasingly drawn toward businesses that exhibit a high level of environmental stewardship. It’s not enough for companies to offer high-quality products or services. To earn the goodwill of the buying public, companies also need to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, to climate-friendly policies, and to minimizing waste.

This is a welcome trend overall, but it’s not without its downsides. One of the biggest is that it has encouraged many companies to engage in greenwashing. This is the practice of misstating, exaggerating, or flat-out lying about environmental bona fides, as a way of tricking eco-conscious consumers into purchasing a product or service.

Some companies engage in greenwashing maliciously, but others stumble into it by accident. Indeed, it’s surprisingly easy to misrepresent your environmental commitments out of sheer zeal, not any desire to mislead.

So how can your business avoid greenwashing in its marketing and branding activities? Here are a few guidelines.

4 Ways to Steer Clear of Greenwashing

1) Avoid any language that’s overly vague.

It’s easy enough to say that your product is “natural,” or that your company is "eco-friendly”... but what do these words actually mean? Always be sure you back up such language with specific, factual claims; for example, rather than just calling a product “natural,” be careful to list the specific ingredients or materials used.

2) Don’t lie!

Here’s a simple one: Don’t make any statements about a product that you know to be untrue, even if you feel like you’re fudging the truth just a little bit. For instance, it may be tempting to say that a product that’s made from 90 percent recycled materials is made from all recycled materials, when in reality this is classic greenwashing.

3) Don’t misappropriate green imagery.

Greenwashing isn’t just about verbiage. It can also be a matter of the colors and images used in your graphics. We’d recommend that you avoid a lot of greenery or plant-based imagery, unless your company is actually taking clear, practical steps toward sustainability.

4) Use data carefully.

Another way to avoid greenwashing is to represent your data carefully. It’s far too common to see companies cherry pick one data point to validate their sustainability efforts while ignoring all of the conflicting data points.

Ensure Honesty in Your Messaging

If your company has made meaningful strides toward sustainability, that’s something to celebrate… and by all means, something to promote to your clientele. Be sure you’re representing those efforts honestly, avoiding even the hint of greenwashing. And if you’re ready to move forward with a responsible waste management plan, WasteXperts is here for you. Reach out to us whenever you’re ready to chat.

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