What Is Greenwashing and Why Does It Matter

Here at Little Soap we are passionate about protecting our planet and all who inhibit it. Regular readers and loyal fans will know just how deeply we care about helping others to achieve a greener lifestyle and how hard we work to ensure that we’re doing our very best both as a business and on a personal level.

We know there is still so much that we can do, and so much more that we need to change. We know that we cannot ‘save’ the planet but we do know that we can change it and that’s exactly what we hope to do, each and every day. We’re taking a look at so-called greenwashing today, and diving a little deeper into its definition and what it means to us as a society. So, what is greenwashing and why does it matter?

Greenwashing: a definition 

On a very basic level, greenwashing is the act of making people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is. In other words, it’s standing up on a soap box and telling your customers that you’re doing x,y and z to better our planet, when you’re doing no such thing at all. This can be intentional misleading, or accidentally occurring when a business simply doesn’t realise they’re giving out misinformation.

Why does it matter?

So why should we care? Why do we need to question whether or not a company is worthy of its green credentials?  And does it really matter, in the grand scheme of things? Well, if you care about honesty and not being lied to, plus you genuinely want to help the environment, then the answer to the latter is a most definite YES. It matters.

A business that spends a great deal of time, effort and most importantly money in telling you that they’re as green as can be and are investing in our planet is fundamentally dishonest if none of that is true. They’re inflating their efforts in order to persuade you to invest in them. They’re attempting to sell you a lie. They’re taking advantage of anyone who cares enough to live a greener lifestyle and that is really at the crux of the problem here. It’s not just misleading, It’s taking your money away from businesses with genuine green initiatives.

How can you spot greenwashing?

So how can you spot greenwashing? First and foremost, it always pays to do your own research and educate yourself on the issues our planet faces. Question things. Don’t blindly accept a company’s clams if they sound too good to be true. Learn how to spot the common claims that are often misleading:

  • ‘Natural’- all too often this is a term that brands will use that means very little, and can be misconstrued very easily. Without going into detail, ‘natural’ can be quite meaningless, so look a little deeper. Read the ingredients label, google the product and make sure you look beyond the buzz-word.
  • ‘Free from’- Lots of beauty products will claim to be free of certain ingredients, but it’s not always completely honest. Some brands also use this term to deliberately mislead consumers, by claiming their product is free of something that would never have been in there in the first place! 
  • ‘Clean beauty’- another buzz word that attracts interest, but one that can be misused. 
  • ‘Chemical free’– again, a favourite with cosmetic companies. Nothing is truly chemical free, so look out for this term on packaging and do a little more research before you buy. 

How to avoid falling for it all

The question now is how do you, as a reader and a consumer, know that we at Little Soap are truly doing all that we say? Isn’t it just as easy for us to proclaim we’re doing all this stuff to help protect the future of our planet, without really lifting a finger at all? Again, it all comes down to research. Read our ingredients labels, check our credentials. Get in touch and ask us. We always strive to work with integrity and to be as open and transparent as we possibly can be, so we are always open to answering your questions.

When it comes to other businesses and brands, here are three things that you can do to filter out the greenwashing:

  • Always check the label and the website for additional information. Environmental claims should be backed up by evidence, and that should be readily available to you.
  • Always expect transparency. If a brand is truly green, they will be more than happy to hear from you and share more details when you ask for them. 
  • Look for logos. Lots of brands will invest in displaying logos that instantly tell you they are accredited. But bear in mind, smaller brands may not be able to afford logos too.

At the end of the day, it’s up to us as consumers to ask questions. It’s a sorry state of affairs when you realise that not all brands are going to be honest, but if we continue to challenge greenwashing we can perhaps start to eradicate it. Don’t accept anything but decency, honesty and integrity, whether you’re spending £1 or £100. It all matters, and it all makes a difference in the end.