What is greenwashing?

What is greenwashing?

As more and more brands are being called out on false environmental claims, it’s no surprise that ‘greenwashing’ has become one of the biggest buzzwords when it comes to sustainability and business. But what exactly is meant by greenwashing, and how can we separate the real from the fake?

To put it simply, greenwashing is the practice of making people believe your business is doing more to protect the environment than it really is.  

Whilst the term itself has been around since the 1980s, figures such as Greta Thunburg leading the charge for environmental change have given this practice a powerful new significance. The need for businesses to have environmental credentials is more important than ever, with 91% of people stating sustainability to be a consideration when buying products.  

And it’s not all talk. Sustainably-marketed products have made up 50% of the growth in the consumer-packaged goods market from 2013 to 2018 - something that is only set to increase in the years to come. 

It’s clear then that it not only looks good to be green, but it pays too. So how can we know whether we’re being a responsible consumer or whether we’re buying into these greenwashing tactics? We’ve put together our top three tips for spotting the real deal when it comes to sustainability.


Vague claims 

Whilst terms like ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘kind to the planet’ might sound promising, if not substantiated with facts or evidence, they may just be for show.

Clear language

With nothing to hide, the best brands in sustainability speak clearly about themselves, their products and their achievements, without over-complicating text or packing it with scientific jargon.


It’s true - honesty is in fact the best policy. Being open about both successes and shortcomings are signs of a trustworthy brand or business, and a good indicator of a desire to make meaningful change.

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