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Greenwashing and True Corporate Sustainability

By Kaeley Sterkel

As society pushes through the early 2020s the idea of corporate sustainability is becoming more and more part of the status quo. With the rise in concern for important environmental issues it has forced corporations to level up their green thumb. This is a huge win for the environment but unfortunately some companies would rather be deceitful than contribute to action for the environment, this is called greenwashing.

Greenwashing is an alarming concept because it makes it hard for the general public to decipher genuine sustainability efforts. When looking for companies who have true intentions for the environment you should look towards companies that made the first commitment to sustainability. Companies like Ford, REI, and Seventh Generation started to make a change before sustainability became a “trend”.

You may be wondering what makes a company sustainable? A few key details to pay attention to when searching for corporations is how transparent they are with the materials they use and the ethical sourcing of their materials, this can usually be found on their website and if it is not laid out in front of you, they are most likely greenwashing. You can also see how environmentally conscious their manufacturing practices are. Something that can only take a few minutes is how waste-conscious their packaging is, this could entail if the produce is recyclable and the amount of material that is being used. You will find that companies who claim to have recyclable products dont explain how much energy, freshwater, and carbon emissions were wasted. Something a company cannot misguide you about is the certifications, audits, or any other form of accountability for what they have done, if they are not promoting these it is possible, they are not committing to their words. An example of a certification would be B corporation.

This certification is an organization which offers certification to businesses which pass their high standards for social and environmental performance and transparency in terms of their supply chain and processes as a business.

The certification is rigorous, and you can be sure that if you buy from a B Corp, then you’re supporting a company working for change. Take a look at the B Corp Directory and see if you could swap any of the brands you buy from regularly.

Other relevant examples are:

  • EcoLogo

  • Green Seal

  • USDA Organic

  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

  • Certified Fair Trade

Companies may make a green claim that might be true but has no relevance or is insignificant—products labeled as CFC-free when CFCs were banned in the 1980s.

Keeping big companies accountable for their actions will make for a better future for our earth. It is important for companies to make the switch to a greener product because they have a huge impact on the amount of pollution that is being produced every year. Just 100 companies in the United States contribute to 70% of the global emissions. When the consumer changes their expectations for their products, companies have no other choice than to adapt to what we demand.

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