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As the world turns to a more environmentally friendly future, consumers are beginning to change their spending habits to seek more sustainable alternatives. But this growing pressure to ‘get green’ has led many organisations to overpromise on their green credentials to make themselves more appealing to their audience.

This is known as ‘greenwashing’.

The act of greenwashing is problematic, as it not only misleads the public on what it is they’re actually purchasing but it also undermines the ongoing fight against climate change.


Why do brands do it?

Brands greenwash because they believe it will win them support and loyalty from their audience. They will often use words like ‘natural’, ‘greener’ and ‘eco-friendly’, without providing any further explanation or evidence to support how their product or service delivers on these claims.

Whilst sometimes greenwashing happens due to a lack of knowledge, there are cases where brands and organisations have knowingly been deceitful. A good example of this is the Volkswagen emissions scandal in 2015, where the company admitted to cheating their emissions tests to make their vehicles look more environmentally friendly to consumers.


How can organisations avoid it?

With so much education around the subject of climate change, being more environmentally friendly should feature fairly high on every organisation’s list of priorities. However, just making empty promises to your audience without addressing the root of the problem may work in the short term but will almost certainly lead to more serious consequences further down the line.

Organisations should avoid falling into the trap of greenwashing by actively committing to making changes that make a difference to the future of the planet. And this should be supported with further explanation or evidence to demonstrate actual the impact. Switching to renewable energy providers, incorporating a bike to work scheme or introducing a recycling policy are all examples of ways that organisations can avoid accidental greenwashing.


At Eleven, we have over ten years’ experience helping organisations to demonstrate their green credentials. If you’re looking for support in effectively communicating your environmental commitments to your audience, get in touch with a member of our team today.

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