by Ileana Josephi
Let’s be honest, going green sells. Companies are facing increasing pressure to create sustainable products due to a rising awareness among consumers about the environmental impacts of their spending habits. The younger generations, who regard climate change as the most critical issue confronting humanity at present, contribute significantly to this demand (Gibbens, 2022). Thus, when consumers perceive companies as socially responsible, they may be more willing to buy their products at a higher price (Netto et al.: 2020). Nevertheless, it is important to note that not all environmental claims carry the same weight, as certain companies that promote themselves as sustainable, biodegradable, or environmentally conscious may not live up to their promises (Gibbens 2022). This is what is called greenwashing – companies that perform ‘selective disclosure’, wherein they choose to disclose positive information about their environmental or social performance, while conveniently omitting negative information, thereby creating an overly positive corporate image (Netto et al.: 2020).
Certainly, as a paper company offering a sustainable alternative to flexible packaging, we understand there might be potential concerns about greenwashing. Our goal is to provide you, as our consumer, with comprehensive information throughout our blog for you to make an informed assessment of whether we are indeed the best choice in terms of sustainability. Honesty is our priority, so we aim to transparently convey the circumstances in which paper-based packaging represents the most sustainable option, as well as when it may not be optimal. Thus, we give you seven tips, sourced from TerraChoice, to empower you to make an informed decision and avoid falling prey to greenwashing companies:
- Hidden trade-off: Companies that claim their products are ‘green’ based on a narrow set of attributes while neglecting other significant environmental concerns. For example, paper is not necessarily environmentally preferable just because it comes from a sustainably harvested forest. Greenhouse gas emissions or chlorine use may be equally important environmental issues in the paper-making process.
- No proof: If a corporation makes a claim that includes some kind of percentage or statistics info that are not verified by easily accessible supporting information or by a reliable third-party verification, the claim lacks credibility.
- Vagueness: An environmental claim that is poorly defined or overly broad, lacking specific details. For example, the label ‘All natural’ does not guarantee environmental friendliness – arsenic, uranium, and mercury are all naturally occurring, and poisonous.
- Misleading certifications: A product that misleads consumers into thinking that it has been through a legitimate green certification process. Try to scrutinize the use of misleading images or green symbolism that may not align with a company’s actual practices.
- Irrelevance: Environmental claims that, while truthful, are not significant or helpful for consumers seeking environmentally preferable products.
- Lesser of two evils: Claims that may hold true within a specific product category, but that risks distracting the consumer from the greater environmental impacts of the entire category.
- Fibbing: Environmental claims that are simply false.
We urge you to apply these tips diligently while thoroughly assessing our company and our product offerings. Additionally, we invite you to explore the remaining articles on our website. By doing so, you can gain further insights into our journey towards becoming a sustainable brand, the significant strides we have made thus far, and our third-party certification validating our sustainability progress.
Gibbens, S. (2022). “Is your favorite ‘green’ product as eco-friendly as it claims to be?”, National Geographic. Accessed on 17 July 2023, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/what-is-greenwashing-how-to-spot.
Netto, S., Sobral, M., Ribeiro, A., and Soares, G. (2020). “Concepts and forms of greenwashing: a systemic review”, Environmental Sciences Europe (32)19.