Updated: May 23, 2022
Whether it's for economic reasons or to rethink consumption practices, people have changed their waste habits, which has raised awareness among companies regarding sustainability. Several brands started to communicate with ecological appeal on their labels, often portraying themselves as “ecological”, “sustainable” or “environmentally friendly” to attract new consumers. But not infrequently, these products do not live up to what they preach.
This is called Greenwashing, where brands create a false appearance of sustainability, without necessarily putting it into practice. In general, the strategy is to use vague and unsubstantiated terms, which lead consumers to believe that when buying an "ecological" product, they are contributing to environmental and animal sustainability.
Consumers, therefore, need to be aware of information about items they want to buy and brands they want to buy from. This is essential for them to be able to value and give preference to companies and products that are truly more sustainable, putting real conscious consumption into practice.
And how can companies communicate avoiding greenwashing?
Transparency. Brands and companies should be communicating the sustainability attributes of their products or their socio-environmental actions with clear, reliable, relevant and transparent information, ensuring these qualities are essential to building communication capable of guiding consumer decision-making — without the risk of greenwashing.
It is important to highlight the sustainability attributes that actually represent a differentiated benefit of the product in relation to the environment and society, beyond what is required by law and provide accurate, substantiated and consistent data. Brands and companies should also indicate ways for the consumer to track and learn more about the methods and processes behind the claims made.
We can only try and be very present in the moment when consuming goods-reading labels, reading up on brands and companies and what they are doing in the sustainability arena. It is up to the consumer to try and make the best decisions when buying products, as it eventually becomes the waste responsibility of the person with the pocketbook.