In the past few years, we have become increasingly conscious about the environment and the impact of what we consume. We feel less guilty about purchasing products which are labelled Eco- friendly. However, we don't have the time to research thoroughly for all the products we buy.

This is where Green Marketing comes in the picture. What is wrong with Green Marketing? Nothing. But if it is used to deceive people into buying products, Green Marketing becomes “Greenwashing”.


What is Greenwashing?

Cambridge Dictionary says greenwashing is designed “to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is”. It basically means falsely claiming (intentionally or unintentionally) that you are eco-friendly when you are not. It is evident if a company is spending more time and money claiming to be “green” than actually being so.

But why is it bad?

It misleads consumers into buying the “greenwashed” products as opposed to genuine eco-friendly ones. Since sustainability is trending now, all companies are jumping on this bandwagon. So the ones with the highest marketing budgets and consumer reach win (and not the ones that are genuine) defeating the whole purpose. 

Some examples:

1. A large Indian conglomerate which portrays itself to be sustainable has launched a super fast fashion brand which has T-Shirts available for less than Rs. 200. This clothing chain has become quite famous now!

2. A big coffee chain - In 2018, in response to increased calls for banning plastic straws, this coffee chain introduced a new straw-less lid that actually contained more plastic by weight than the old straw and lid combination.

3. A big burger chain - In 2009, this chain changed the colour of their logos from yellow and green; a spokesman for the company explained that the change was "to clarify [their] responsibility for the preservation of natural resources."

4. A Fast fashion retailer – This retailer launched their sustainable clothing series and even though the proportion of their sales through this series would be minuscule, it helps in marketing themselves as a Green company.

Here's how we can be aware and responsible

Greenwashing is difficult to spot and now becoming more sophisticated. In some cases, greenwashing is unintentional, where companies who market the product may not be completely aware about the negative aspects of their products. But in many cases, greenwashing is used to change the image of the company and drive more sales.

Be a bit skeptical

There are a lot of words which are thrown around loosely like, “All Natural”, “Organic”, “Vegan”, “Eco-Friendly”, “Green”, “Sustainable”, “Compostable”, “Bio-degradable” etc. There are no set definitions for these terms and may not carry much substance other than to induce you to consume that product. Be skeptical about such marketing and try to judge the genuineness about the claims.

Don’t get carried away by the environmental imagery used on the product or marketing. Having forests and mountain photographs on the package make it more eco-appealing but it might just be a distraction.


Look out for Third party certifications and labels on the product. For example, Organic cotton can be relied upon if it has been certified as either ‘GOTS’, ‘BCI’ or ‘OCS’. ‘Energy Star’ is one such certifications for electronics.

Get aware & spread awareness

Check out for product reviews before making a decision. Additionally, provide reviews so that others can make an informed decision too.

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