I like to think that we’re all great actors. Putting on happy faces, mirroring people’s behaviour to fit into the societal framework, is a talent possessed by all. The desire to be people-pleaser is not just limited to individuals, but has also ricocheted its way into the legal entities formed by groups of individuals, also known as companies. The world is a giant masquerade ball where corporations put on masks of lies hiding what resides underneath.
One of these masks which sells like hotcakes is the mask of greenwashing. According to cambridge dictionary, greenwashing is a method “to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is.” It is THE marketing technique of this era, that we are all victims of.
Greenwashing is merely a game of using the right words and colours.
Step one, attach words like “natural” and “eco friendly”.
Step two, use the colour green everywhere you can.
Step three, if you want to go the extra mile, attach a leaf vector somewhere on your product.
That’s it, your mask is ready, and advertisements bejewelled with lies are ready to garn the world. Now don’t get me wrong here, I am no pessimist calling out every company making these claims. The aim is to help you, as a consumer, to be aware of the existence of these practices so that you know which companies are merely painting a facade.
The burden of making the right choice in the end, falls on the consumers. Knowledge is our weapon and being aware, our duty. Question the claims being made by the companies. Use your resource of being a click away from all answers. If a company claims to sell biodegradable products, search about the materials they use to make it. If they advertise less carbon footprint, ask how. If they claim their products are recyclable, ask how much of it do they really recycle.
Do not blatantly fall for word games. Companies, especially in the personal care industry throw around words like “all natural”, “chemical free” as if confetti. However, these words are not legally defined and have no regulation on their use. So it is important to dive into the ingredient list before shelling your money out on claims which may be baseless. India is a growing market of herbal products because of its roots to Ayurveda, but many companies are operating on loopholes of the Drugs & Cosmetics Act of 1940. In a market where governance over terms is yet a goal to be achieved – it is the consumers who have to make the effort of knowing the entire truth.
The fact that people have prioritized the impact that their purchase has on the environment has created a new segment in the market. It has created a new land of opportunities to make money, and a new way of exploiting the earth by putting on a green face. However, this can be changed if we truly take responsibility by being mindful and aware of our purchases. Support companies and small businesses that genuinely want to serve this market by keeping the environment as their top priority.
Your money is your vote. Your voice is your power. When as consumers, you use these tools , you tell the corporations around the world to take their masks off and actually change their practices. Till we reach that place where all products truly are what they claim, we have to be aware and not fall for greenwashing.