The 5 Biggest Greenwashing Tactics (And How to Avoid Them)

Greenwashing. It sounds nice, right, like using all natural soap to clean your baby’s hair, or making the house sparkly clean with only baking soda and lemon. I suppose that would be green-washing. But, tragically, the reality isn’t nearly as idyllic.

Greenwashing is essentially what happens when a company tries to make their products, services, or whole organization appear eco-friendly, even when it’s not. It’s similar to the food claims that something is “all natural” and “fat free” or even “vegan”. These may sounds fancy and healthy, but really carry little meaning in regards to overall health. Similarly, products that are greenwashed may make you feel like you’re making a good choice, but in reality they can be just as harmful as their conventional alternatives. I’ve compiled a list of what I believe are the most common forms of greenwashing that I see nearly every day.

1. “All natural” 

So, just like in food labels, this doesn’t really mean anything because there are essentially no governing bodies to determine what gets this label and what doesn’t. Just because something is in a green or brown packaging and boasts that it’s natural, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is– or that you want it near your body. Verify the ingredients list, and check for certifications, such as being organic or a biobased product. usda_organic-logo

Speaking of that green and brown packaging– that counts too! Companies will try to market their products in subtle ways that make us reach for them without thinking.

2. “vegan”

This one should be cool, right? But a certain company, whom we shall call “Farnier Gructis” has started proudly marketing certain products as “vegan formula”. But the products are still tested on animals, which isn’t very cool. Or, by my morals and definitions, vegan. Which brings me to the next topic:

3. This Product Not Tested On Animals

Oof. This carries a lot of questions. Were the ingredients tested on animals? Are other products by the company tested on animals? Always look for a certification, such as Leaping Bunny or PETA’s cruelty free logo– they will show which products are cruelty free and vegan!

 

4. Recyclable container/packaging

Ugh. This one is super hard, because obviously recycling is good, but not the best option. Opt for products that are packaged in recycled and recyclable packaging– or, better yet, little to no packaging. Paper and glass are much more easily and cleanly recycled than plastic.

5. Made with “xxx”

No, not moonshine. Saying a product is made with something doesn’t really even mean it’s a major part. If your fruity tooty mango shampoo has more chemicals than mango, it’s really time to let that go, man. Ha.

Spend a little time researching the brands and products you buy. Find if they test on animals, if they have certifications, where you can buy them for the cheapest. Knowing which makeup brands and cleaning supplies have a good reputation can make greener shopping easy. I like Mrs. Meyers’ cleaning supplies, and I sometimes use Seventh Generation as well, or brandless.com. If you can’t find products that suit you, just remember that nearly everything (including you!) can be cleaned with baking soda, vinegar, castile soap, and essential oils– there are tons of recipes on Pinterest, from shampoo to dish detergents.

I challenge you to open your eyes a little more while doing your shopping, and maybe make your home a little greener, a little brighter, and a little cleaner!

xoxo Emma

Vegan at College: How to Hack It

  1. MIX UP YOUR SALADS
    • add beans, salsa, chickpeas, guac, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, whatever is available
    • take advantage of the salad bar- there are probably delicious raw veggies you can eat plain, or with hummus, guac, peanut butter, etc
  2. PROTEIN POW(D)ER
    • if your protein options are limited, you can always keep some protein powder on you (I love Orgain Chocolate Fudge). Just add water or nondairy milk; or, make my favorite protein smoothie bowl (recipe soon to come!)
  3. SPICE IT UP
    • when the steamed green beans and broccoli start to get old, mix it up! Add soy, sriracha, lemon pepper, curry powder, paprika- use your imagination!
  4. MEAL PREP
    • if you have a fridge and microwave, you’re all set. Buy canned soup (I love Amy’s kitchen), and pre-portion veggies and hummus for grab-and-go dining
    • if you have access to a dorm kitchen, even better! Spend some time during the weekend roasting veggies, cooking up soup, or making peanut butter cookies
  5. Speak up!
    • petition for more choices, ask for items to be made vegan, maybe even start a vegan club!

WHAT NOT TO DO:

  • DON’T start eating all the vegan junk food you can; it’s hard, especially when you suddenly have new freedom. Avoid the Oreos, Sour Patch Kids, veggie burgers and fries- they won’t be your friend for long
  • DON’T ignore nutrient needs. Track your proteins, fats, micronutrients, etc. Make sure you take a vitamin supplement of some sort for those important B vitamins!
  • DON’T give up. It may seem difficult, but remember that you are not a potato, you are a coffee bean: when you’re put in hot water, change your surroundings, don’t let them change you!