Greenwashing was a new term for me. I have learned that greenwashing practices evolved as consumers began to spend more dollars on eco-friendly items. With this increasing change in shopping trends, businesses have had to reevaluate what they will push and endorse in some cases for more profit. However, in selling and promoting more eco-friendly items comes higher costs. Higher production costs are what is most dreaded by companies, so what how do they fix that? They make you believe you are buying an eco-friendly item, spending less of the production cost and taking your extra money.
While I was surprised, I wasn’t surprised. We live in a world that is driven by profit. However, I would have though that those passionate about sustainability would be more ethical in advertising and production practices. With that being said, as we allocate more money into buying better, sustainable, eco-friendly products, let’s do our research in making sure we are actually doing so with our new found favorite brands. I have researched what are the top 25, most commonly used items that are greenwashed so that we can better know our options. Below are a few that may surprise you.
1. Airline tickets
I know, we do not typically think this is on the TOP 25 because what college student has enough money to buy plane tickets a few times throughout the whole year? Truth is, even college students travel quite a lot to visit family between breaks, at least once a year per student makes for a lot of the profit, not including other consumers. While airlines like the one I work for, American Air, are buying and building bigger planes there is Easy Jet who focuses on producing smaller “Eco friendly” planes. The smaller they are the less emissions they give is the idea, however, the emissions are very much being emitted, no matter the size.
2. Kids toys
This one is a given and I know we have covered it in class also. Many toys claim to be no non toxic, BPA free, or lead free, but what other chemicals are included in the toys paint? What about the packaging? What about while we shop for the toys, are we using a reusable bag given to us by the store? Now look at the bag, is it made out of plastic or actual recycled material?
Electronics take up a whole lot of energy that we use. Do you every really unplug or turn off your laptop when not in use? I really have to remind myself at times. With that being said, software is actually on the TOP 25 items being greenwashed. While some products claim to put profit towards eco friendly practices and business, including from Microsoft, they also made consumers have to buy new computers just to run Windows 7 new software.
I was fascinated to learn in my Nutrition class just because the foods you buy state organic does not mean they are fully organic. In order for your product to actually be the organic you are probably looking for, it has to say 100% Organic. Simply stating Organic can mean just up to 90% of the meat is Organic. In some cases, even only part of the product is organic, anywhere from 50-70% even though you are lead to think otherwise. With that being said, sadly, a label can state “All Natural”, yet the animal was treated with antibiotics and fed GMO corn.
5. Tampons and Sanitary Pads
This one is kind of a given if you really think about it, but thing is we don’t really think about it. Who thinks of cotton when they feel their insides are being pulled out once a month? Truth is, on top of certain companies claiming they monitor the amount of their product going to landfills by foregoing tampon applicators, they dont mention all the chemicals that go into the production of the cotton you are putting into your body. Might I add, these are chemicals that cause wildlife toxicity and as a direct implication to you, also cancer causing.