Greenwashing 101

Ahh, the dark market of greenwashing – the strategic and often intentional marketing ploy of telling little ‘green’ lies that you enjoy hugging trees more than pounds. In short, these are those so-called ethical marketing agencies and brands that camouflage themselves as much more sustainable, natural, and eco-friendly than they really are to gain a competitive edge.

Tricking the community and sabotaging the environmental movement for profit gains? Not cool.

The worst part is that many of these greenwashing pros are so good at what they do, using eco-conscious verbiage, that perhaps even you have fallen for their schemes. No shame, and in your defence, this should not be something you should have to vet for in the first place.

In a nutshell, greenwashing is everywhere, but if you want to build up your anti-greenwashing armour and support REAL eco-friendly brands on standing out from the sea of fakies, then knowing the red flags and ‘washing signs is the perfect place to start.

The 7 Sins of Greenwashing

Have you ever heard of the 7 sins of greenwashing? Yes, that is a legit thing and the core foundation on how you can tell if an ethical marketing agency or brand are supporting the eco-friendly movement or not.

  • There is a Hidden Trade-Off: Red-flag number one is seeing a brand showcase themselves as eco-friendly, but only on a very small number of attributes. For example, they may use recycled content but could also skyrocket gas emissions at the same time.

  • Zero Proof: Words are just words unless they are backed by evidence. This means if a brand is claiming to do all sorts of environmental goodness, but with no proof other than a label, there is a good chance they are greenwashing.

  • Super Vague: If a brand is trying to pull the wool over your eyes, they will likely be very vague when it comes to their eco-friendly/sustainability claims. They may use some powerful words to get your eyebrows raised, but never forget that “all-natural” can still contain harmful ingredients.

  • Irrelevance: This one is tricky because these ethical statements can technically be true. However, the catch is that they are not a distinguishing factor when looking at a specific product. For example, a brand can say they are CFC-free honestly, but CFCs are banned in the UK, making that point irrelevant.

  • Marketing the Lesser of the Evils: For this one, a brand could be totally anti-eco-friendly but will market the heck out of a product that does have some sustainability in the hopes that it will sugarcoat the rest of what is going on. This is why looking into the bigger picture of a brand is so important to spot greenwashing.

  • Downright Lying: Let’s be real; sometimes brands will straight out lie to the public that they are something they are not. Perhaps they will say they gained a certification they don’t actually have or are energy efficient when they are not. Unfortunately, this type of lying is common, so keep your eyes peeled.

  • Marketing False Labels: Last but not least, greenwashing minions are really good at worshipping false labels, implying they have products that are endorsed and respected via certifications. But the zinger is that those certifications or badges do not exist. People who don’t deep dive into these cert/label claims can easily fall for this one.

Koala Marketing – Bringing Back The ‘Ethical’ in Ethical Marketing Agencies

In summary, greenwashing sucks. It should not be a thing, and the world would quite frankly spin a little better if everyone were authentic and honest folk. But working with the reality we have today, the best thing you can do to spot a greenwasher is knowing what to look for as a consumer and working with a respected ethical marketing agency to ensure you don’t push your own eco-friendly brand down the same path.

With that being said, not all marketing agencies or marketing professionals are designed on a foundation of integrity and trust. And if you truly want to spearhead your marketing goals without having any traces of greenwashing (on purpose or accident), then don’t hesitate to contact Koala Marketing today. We are a crew of creative and ethical marketing specialists based on the premise of no pretending, no misdirection, and no greenwashing BS! And if there is one thing for sure, you deserve to reach new levels of brand growth with an agency that values ethics, morals, and transparency just as much as you do.

Photo by Alena Koval.

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Koala Marketing is a green-thinking creative agency for small-medium sized businesses based in the UK and working across EMEA.

We bring our sustainable ideas to the companies we support and plant trees for every new client we take on.

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