How to Detect Greenwashing From Companies


Environmental concerns are now a real consideration for many people when choosing what products they buy. For example, around 32 percent of Millennials will pick a more eco-friendly alternative.

Of course, businesses can read those studies and results as well as anyone else. They know that slapping an eco-friendly label on a product will induce some customers to pay more and attract a specific target market.

Just because a company says that it’s environmentally friendly or uses sustainable practices, that doesn’t make it so. Sometimes you run across greenwashing companies.

Not sure what greenwashing is or how to spot it? Keep reading for our quick guide.

What Is Greenwashing?

While the term greenwashing gets thrown around a lot in certain circles, odds are good that you only have a hazy sense of what it means. In essence, greenwashing is when a company pays lip service to the idea of being more environmentally friendly, primarily as a marketing tool.

The company promotes itself or its products as sustainable or eco-friendly but makes little or no change to its actual operations.

How to Detect Greenwashing?

The real problem with greenwashing is that it’s often a challenge for consumers to spot it when a company goes down that road. If a small business or major corporation says they’re making a commitment to sustainable business practices, how do you separate a well-intentioned effort from a ploy? After all, it’s not like you’re in on their executive meetings.

Let’s dig into some of the key signs of greenwashing.

Symbolic Activity

A fairly common greenwashing ploy is pointing out practices that suggest a commitment to sustainability, but don’t involve any meaningful changes to a business’s practices. For example, a company may initiate a paper waste reduction program. It sounds good but probably won’t amount to much in terms of protecting the environment.

No Proof

Another common sign of greenwashing is a lack of proof. There are organizations that certify sustainable practices or procedures. A lack of certifications or verifiable evidence means they’re talking a big game, but likely doing nothing.


Watch out for claims that something is an “eco-friendly” product or that a company is “sustainable.” Any business can use those terms because they aren’t regulated. If a company offers no specifics, they’re likely greenwashing.

Is Greenwashing Bad?

Greenwashing is bad in multiple ways. It further erodes trust between the public and businesses, for one thing. It also means that the environment gets no meaningful benefits.

Beyond that, it can leave consumers paying more for products that aren’t substantially different from non-eco-friendly products.

If you want to read about businesses actually engaged with sustainable practices, check out Business Vision Magazine.

Greenwashing Companies and You

As environmental concerns mount, dealing with greenwashing companies becomes more of a problem. People want and will pay more for products made in sustainable ways. They’ll support companies that embrace sustainable practices.

Companies that greenwash try to take advantage of people’s good intentions without actually making any changes.

Looking for more about good and bad business management practices? Check some of the other posts over in our Business section.

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