With growing demand in conscious consumer numbers, firms across industries are looking at plant-based or ‘green’ alternatives to replace harmful materials or much-criticised unsustainable production processes.
Whether it’s a fast-fashion brand releasing conscious labels or car companies unveiling clean diesel autos, one can see green attempts coming from companies across the spectrum. However, there have also been reports and allegations against many well-known firms accusing these green attempts of being greenwashing moves. Greenwashing is a term coined for when an institution attempts to falsely portray an environmentally friendly image for its products or processes when in fact the contrary is the case.
One such example is that of Ikea’s greenwashing accusations. The furniture and lifestyle accessory leader opened doors for what was called the company’s most sustainable store, located in London. However, reports soon surfaced regarding the store being built in place of another sustainable building that was demolished in order to make way for the store. Ikea’s sustainability claims also took a hit back in June 2020 when it was a target of illegal logging reports.
Greenwashing attempts are not just restricted to fashion or lifestyle. Vehicle manufacturer Volkswagen admitted rigging 11 million of its own “clean diesel” with devices designed to cheat emissions and faced criminal charges for the same.
The question that then arises, is how one can protect themselves from being greenwashed. A simple way out would be being aware of certified sustainable products, materials and production processes. A mere attempt at a circular vision is not always enough to bear a sustainable tag, what really matters is actions towards changing current unsustainable practices whilst being more circular.