What Is Greenwashing? And How Are Governments Fighting It?

Published September 10th, 2021 - 03:00 GMT
What Is Greenwashing? And How Are Governments Fighting It?
Contrary to the word washing, greenwashing is anything but clean. (shutterstock)

The world is becoming more aware of the need to create sustainable products to ensure the safety of our environment. Hence slogans like “go-green” have become more prevalent and people are turning to greener practices. However, there are also many out there who take advantage of such campaigns and misuse them for their own good, and that is precisely the case with greenwashing. 

greenwashing

Source: Twitter

What is greenwashing?

Contrary to the word washing, greenwashing is anything but clean. While it dates back to the 80’s, the term is still prevalent today. It is a technique adopted by companies to mislead people into believing that their products or services are not harmful to the environment, when in fact they can be. While in some cases, these products might not be harmful, greenwashing happens when these same companies exaggerate the benefits their products entail. Why go above and beyond to market yourself as a “go-greener” when you can be using that same investment into actually doing the work? 

Companies using greenwashing count on feeding on people’s desire to be a part of the eco-friendly movement, while in fact they might not be taking any sustainable and real action. In a nutshell, greenwashing is like someone hugging a tree and claiming to be saving the environment. And although it can be symbolic, it really is not making much of a difference! 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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How are governments fighting greenwashing?

Therefore, immediate intervention is needed from governments and institutions to help the misleading information that greenwashing brings. The UK government, for instance, started the Green Technical Advisory Group, a research group focused on greenwashing and setting the green bar for companies. This is a key step in determining what “green” really means and creating a common definition for companies and individuals to follow. Germany is also setting high bars to what can be called a sustainable investment or not. 

“We want to create as high a quality of supervision as possible,” said Poetzsch, German Head of Security Supervision at Federal Financial Services Authority (BaFin) 

In addition, the European Union is encouraging the fight against greenwashing as well, and pushing for tighter measures to be passed on bank and credit rating agencies. This will entail including climate-related risks in bank capital and credit rating requirements.  But Europe is not the only place where people are talking about greenwashing! In the US, it has been reported that the Biden representation is discussing action plans to combat greenwashing as many call for a stance against it. 

"The Biden administration has been pretty committed to tackling the climate crisis and we believe that the FTC under the Biden administration will be receptive to this complaint and would take Greenwashing seriously," said Anusha Narayanan, climate campaign manager for Greenpeace USA.

While some countries are making progress in their fight against misleading information, there is still a long way to go when it comes to saving our environment. Therefore, it is crucial for people to also pay attention to the ads they watch and do their research when it comes to products that claim to be eco-friendly. 


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