Greenwashing: How to Spot It and How to Stop It

Greenwashing: How to Spot It and How to Stop It

From H&M to Walmart, companies everywhere have started to emphasize their products as “eco-friendly.” As climate experts and scientists believe humans are reaching the point of no return from the impacts of environmental degradation, society is finally beginning to acknowledge the importance of sustainability and the social responsibility to be mindful, eco-friendly consumers. However, this has manifested itself in a deceptive and unethical business practice known as “greenwashing.”

What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing occurs when a company conveys a false impression or misleads a customer into believing the company produces their products in an environmentally friendly manner. Whether greenwashing manifests itself in false marketing claims about products or campaigns, this practice is the result of a false concern for the state of our environment in order to increase corporate profits.

Aware of the consumer trend towards sustainable products, many companies, especially in the clothing industry, often slap a ‘clean’ label onto their products. For instance, companies such as H&M and Urban Outfitters have been accused of greenwashing, as they continue to market their efforts to be environmentally-friendly despite their substantial contributions to the detrimental effects of fast fashion. This practice is not restricted to fashion companies; in almost all areas of marketing, companies use vague claims to hide their true practices in order to deceive an environmentally-conscious consumer into purchasing their products. 

How to Actually Shop Green

Because greenwashing is so widespread, the question is: how can you tell whether a company is actually sustainable? 

  • Find the data. If you research a company’s sustainability efforts and all you see are vague claims with no statistical evidence, it is most likely greenwashing. Instead, try to find if a company has real data on the tangible actions they are taking to become more environmentally-friendly.


  • Check the labels. If you see that a product is labeled as “all-natural,” “organic,” or “green,” do not automatically assume that it is. Companies use these buzzwords in hopes that the customer will believe their product is eco-friendly without looking at the ingredients or how the product was made. Always be sure to check the ingredients to certify that the product is actually what it claims to be.


  • Certifications. Companies that are truly environmentally conscious will most likely be certified by environmental organizations. Check their websites and products for certifications such as Fair Trade, B Corporate, and GOTs. You can also look up a company’s Environmental, Social, and Governance Risk Rating (ESG), which uses a variety of factors to measure a company’s sustainability. 

For instance, Ecophant works with a vast array of companies’ products that are already certified. 

  • Our Beeswax Wrap is B Corp certified and is partnered with 1% for the Planet, which means they donate 1% of their sales to organizations supporting ocean conservancy, beach cleanups, and water stewardship. 
  • Our Keep Cups are a B Corporation, a certification that helps to measure an organization’s transparency, environmental impact, and community and employee well-being. Keep Cups is also partnered with 1% for the Planet and uses Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified cardboard for their packaging. 
  • Our Eco Bags are BCorp certified and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified, which means that their products are harvested from raw, organic materials through environmentally responsible manufacturing processes. 
  • Our Kooshoo products are Fair Trade certified, which means the company meets standards of income sustainability, community and individual well-being, empowerment, and environmental stewardship. 

Being an environmentally-conscious consumer means keeping companies accountable for their actions. While it may be hard to discern which companies are authentic and which are not, doing your research can go a long way in helping to save the earth. 

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