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What is Greenwashing and how to avoid it.

As the CEO of IMAS (International Manufacturers Association of Sustainability), I understand the importance of sustainability and how crucial it is to the environment. Unfortunately, there are companies out there that take advantage of the trend towards sustainability and engage in something called greenwashing.

Greenwashing is when a company makes misleading claims about the sustainability of their products or services. It is a practice that is not only unethical but also harmful to the environment and consumers.

So, what exactly is greenwashing? It is when companies use marketing tactics to make their products seem more environmentally friendly than they actually are. Examples of greenwashing include claims of being "100% natural" or "eco-friendly," without providing any evidence to back up these claims.

The consequences of greenwashing are severe. Companies that engage in greenwashing may harm the environment by using unsustainable practices or using materials that are not actually eco-friendly. In addition, they can also damage consumer trust, which can lead to legal implications.

There are several types of greenwashing. Hidden trade-offs, for example, occur when a company claims their product is eco-friendly but ignores other environmentally harmful aspects of their business. No proof is when a company makes claims of sustainability without any evidence or third-party certification. Vagueness is when a company uses terms like "natural" or "green," which have no clear meaning. Lesser of two evils is when a company claims their product is better than the alternative, even though it still harms the environment. Irrelevance is when a company makes a claim that is technically true, but not relevant to the environmental impact of their product. Fibbing is when a company blatantly lies about the sustainability of their product.

So how can you avoid greenwashing? As a consumer, it is important to research a company's claims, check certifications and labels, look beyond the product, verify the company's sustainability practices, read reviews and ratings, and choose products with a simple and clear message.

It is important to remember that if you are targeting products that are supposedly sustainable to this community, be prepared to be caught out if you are greenwashing. The community is hyper-critical and genuinely cares about the environment and a greener future. Rightly so, this community holds businesses to account and almost self-regulates by exposing the frauds.

If you are an organisation looking to avoid being seen as a Greenwashing business, IMAS supports Beyond Procurement. Beyond Procurement is a UK-based consultancy that helps organisations with procurement, supply chain, and sustainability. They focus on sustainable procurement practices, circular economy, and carbon footprint reduction. They offer services such as sustainable procurement training, supplier engagement, and carbon footprint assessments. They are committed to helping organisations reduce their environmental impact.

In conclusion, greenwashing is an unethical practice that harms the environment and erodes consumer trust. As a consumer, it is important to be aware of greenwashing and to take steps to avoid it. By doing so, we can help protect the environment and ensure that companies are held accountable for their actions.

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