What is Greenwashing?


Think about the last time you went shopping for a household appliance, an item of clothing or even a meal. What influenced your decision? Of course, the product had to be fit for purpose. It may have needed to be a certain colour or style and price certainly played a part. How about the "Greenness" of the product, or should I say the impact on the planet of the produced item. More and more, we are becoming more aware of the impacts of our consumerism. Thinking we made the ethical choice makes us feel good. But how do we know that the company we're buying from is as green as they say?

That is the art of Green washing. The process of providing false or misleading information about how environmentally sound a companies product is. Whether intentional or not, there are a few mischievous brands who want to jump on the 'green' train.

It's all in the definition

It turns out that the legal definitions for words like 'eco friendly' and 'sustainable' are rather loose. The Federal Trade Commission does provide Green Guides for consumers. It's quite an interesting read and not as dry as you might imagine. The problem is that you can slap 'green' words on packaging without consequences. Or at least without clarifying your claims.

Take for example Quorn foods who claimed that one of their 'lunch pot' products, "helps us to reduce our carbon footprint".

Sounds good right?

On closer inspection the product comes in a single use plastic container. Hmmmm... and the 'us' refers to the company meeting its own carbon footprint claims rather than 'us' as consumers. The claims were technically correct but could be considered misleading.

A certain fast food burger chain stopping the use of plastic straws is a good thing. It certainly made a big deal of it in the media. However, not stopping the use of the plastic lined, non recyclable, paper cups that formerly accompanied the straws didn't make the headlines.

Greenish... sure. Could do better... certainly.

You can find more examples at the truth in advertising website.

Doing it right

On the other side, clothing brand Patagonia has a reputation of environmental activism. Producing high quality, recycled textiles, they put their money where their mouth is. Even going so far as having a 'Don't buy this jacket' campaign to discourage needless consumerism. Unfortunately, this kind of ethos can come at a price. Given the option of a $400 Patagonia jacket, (no matter how ethical it is), or a $40 cheap knock off, most of us have little choice.

Being aware makes a difference

I'm not suggesting that all companies are trying to mislead. Keeping a close eye on what, and where you buy from isn't always easy. Especially in our busy run-around world. That's why suppliers such as Plastic Free Aussie are here for you. We do the research so you have the information at hand.

Take for example our Frank Green, 100% Australian reusable cups... No plastic un-recycleable lining on these bad boys.. just a feel good, quality product!


Fancy something reclaimed and useful? Check out this Soap Saver from Tasmania. Salvaged from naturally fallen logs, you'll never have soggy soap again :)


If you have suggestions for other products you'd like us to source, get in touch and we'll see what we can do.


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