Greenwashing - verb. "To make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it actually is"
The goal of any business is to generate revenue. A big part of what that means is that companies spend massive amounts of their operations budget on marketing themselves to be appealing to their existing and would-be customers. Many companies try to appeal to consumers' convictions, morals, and ethics to gain trust in their brand and confidence in their products. This in itself poses no problem, but when brands do so insincerely, they dupe their customers and may even cause harm.
Greenwashing is known as the strategy of claiming ethical and eco-friendly practices to mask a brand's destructive and abusive policies, methods, and affiliations. When it comes to greenwashing, people are most familiar with the greenwashing in the clothing industry controversies hounding famous brands. Brands such as Nike, H&M, Forever21, Uniqlo, and a whole host of other fast fashion brands that pour millions of marketing dollars into creating a hip, clean, ethical, and progressive image. Greenwashing is rampant among top brands of various industries, which appears to be the modern marketing playbook.
Another major brand that actively promotes itself as sustainable is the Swedish furniture giant IKEA. Despite their efforts to promote sustainability, they were backlash about their illegal logging practices through their suppliers. It shows that despite their proclaimed concern for the environment, they have not been entirely forthcoming or progressive with monitoring their supply chain. Their lines of flat-packed furniture have been linked to logging operators in Ukraine who have repeatedly failed to comply with Ukrainian sustainability and logging standards.
Food is an industry that has unfortunately not been spared from the wave of greenwashing. With a slew of food brands slapping the words "organic" and "all natural" on their labels, you'd be led to believe that patronizing their product would lower your carbon footprint. In reality, many foods labeled organic benefit from a lack of actual regulation on the use of the term in most countries. Fruit products are the worst culprits. When was the last time you had any fruit juice labeled "100% natural" that tasted like freshly squeezed juice? The quick answer is probably never. Unless you juiced the fruit yourself, you are most likely not drinking what the label says you are. Pom, a Coca-Cola subsidiary that bottles what it claims to be 100% pomegranate juice, is an example of this. The USFDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition "found that some of the samples contained undeclared ingredients (e.g., artificial colors, citric acid, sweeteners, or less expensive juices that substitute in whole or in part for the juice purported on the label) so the products were not as they were represented to be on the labels and were therefore adulterated and misbranded."
Like its subsidiary, the Coca-Cola company is not exactly all that ethical either, despite its ad campaigns' feel-good vibe that is admittedly enticing. On top of the undeniable fact that their main product is a future of diabetes and other complications, they are also a massive source of plastic pollution. Throughout its conglomerate, almost all its products are packaged in disposable plastic that consumers have no choice to discard. Not to mention that their products are also noted to be addicting for many of their consumers. With billions of people, their conglomerate peddles their products to as a practically captive market. They are in a unique position to curb the use of plastic containers single-handedly. And yet, they do nothing. These companies and many more – likely one you have just bought products of will probably continue to that shamelessly lull their consumers into thinking they are doing something good to transform their industry. Still, the sad reality is that they probably do not. It is much cheaper to portray themselves as companies that do good instead of being one.
Though consumers are not likely to change their buying habits, they need to know alternative products that are not just taking advantage of the public's clamor for environmentally friendly and ethically produced goods. More importantly they should know what kind of certification to look at to ensure that they are not being misled.
Product certification comes in many forms depending on what type of resources they are trying to protect. In Norway, the word organic or “økologisk” is protected by the law. Only those with certified organic certification accredited by Debio can use the word in their marketing and product labeling. Debio's main task is to label sustainable and organic food in Norway. To ensure that a customer is buying a certified organic, they should look for Ø label. It is the official Norwegian organic label and provides a guarantee that a product is organically grown.
We at cslstore, have a strong focus on introducing practical and compelling lifestyle and self-care products in Scandinavia. Once we believe that your product has a more significant impact in changing people's lives or solving a problem, we will support and offer it to our customers. We do not claim at all that we are sustainable to lure you into supporting us. Sustainability is a complicated issue to tackle, and we do not want to go the hype to just to stay relevant. We believe in uplifting people's lives in developing countries in Southeast Asia as we are fortunate enough to be living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world – Norway. Sourcing materials to these countries is still quite far from sustainable due to the lack of resources, capabilities, and value chain support. By offering their products to Scandinavia and giving them broader access internationally, they could increase their profitability. More importantly, we are giving them a good fighting chance to compete to improve their business models to a more sustainable and brighter future competitively.
Take a look at the bigger picture. By supporting brands in developing countries in Southeast asia and offering their products to Scandinavia, brands like for instance GreenLife could help coconut farmers so they all can make a living in the coconut industry. By offering their products in wealthy countries in Scandinavia, we give them a larger market to scale their business. Through our marketing effort to highlight their brand, we are giving them more visibility on an international scale so food makers would consider working with them.
We are proud to be a part of this effort to introduce more and more of these ethical goods and stand by the products we sell and the brands we support. Here at cslstore.no, we believe that in reality, practical and compelling products should be made available for us, mainly if it solves a problem and makes our lives easier. We will only use such sustainable claims if a brand that we support has a certification to back up the claims. Other than that, we are not a fan of Greenwashing!
Author: Bob Brillante