Greenwashing is a deceptive marketing technique whose aim is to give a company an image of commitment to the lenvironment, when in fact this is not the case. This method is used in a wide range of sectors: food, fashion, cosmetics, automotive, tourism... In most cases, the expenses incurred by companies practicing greenwashing are actually concentrated more on advertising than on genuine ecological actions.
What tools are used by companies practicing greenwashing?
The use of visual elements such as green color variations, photos of natural landscapes, the integration of emojis referring to ecology (this is something we see a lot in the Instagram biographies of certain brands, for example)
The use of a lexical field linked to nature and ecology: "natural origin", "fair trade", "ethical", "responsible", "sustainable", without any real proof of the claims made behind them. For example, many fast-fashion brands offer items (particularly T-shirts) bearing ecological slogans: "there is no planet B"; "keep the earth protected"; "enjoy the ocean" etc... However, if the argument is merely marketing and the ecological commitment goes no further (for example, if the T-shirt is made of synthetic materials), then it's greenwashing.
The use of false labels or claims. For example, we often see brands writing in their product descriptions "100% natural cotton" or worse "100% organic cotton", "sustainable cotton", when in fact they have no certification to back up their claims.
In fact, it seems important to talk about the BCI label, to which many fast-fashion brands adhere. The BCI label - "Better Cotton Initiative" - promises to make better use of cotton, in particular by being more respectful of the environment and the industry's workers. But what's the problem? This label is often associated with organic cotton, whereas it in no way prohibits the use of GMOs or pesticides. Worse still, BCI cotton has a perverse effect on organic cotton, as many cotton growers end up stopping producing organic cotton to switch to BCI cotton, due to the lower requirements.
Quite simply, the lack of transparency regarding the way loperates, its production and the composition of its products.
As a consumer, how can you spot green washing?
One of the first indicators is to look at the company's global responsibility approach: take a critical look, step back and avoid getting caught up in the form and tone put forward and all the marketing techniques used (such as those mentioned above). For example, take a look at the "manifesto", "our commitments" or "the brand" pages, i.e. the pages where brands express their commitment, their missions etc...
Then, in the case of speeches that seem a little vague, don't hesitate to seek information elsewhere to check their credibility.
You can also check the labels, especially if it's a label you haven't heard much about before.
What does the law say?
Several players sare interested in greenwashing.
ARPP (Autorisation de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicité), a private self-regulatory body for advertising in France, cannot sanction companies for greenwashing. Its role is solely to encourage "fair, truthful and healthy advertising".
ADEME (the French Agency for Ecological Transition) is also working with ARPP to limit greenwashing, which it believes helps to misinform consumers.
Finally, it was in April 2021 that Bill No. 3875 on combating climate disruption and strengthening resilience to its effects made it possible to ban ("as of one year following the entry into force of this law") advertising "in favor of fossil fuels" and to "significantly reduce audiovisual commercial communications relating to goods and services that have a negative impact on the environment", but also to toughen and simplify the introduction of sanctions against greenwashing and misleading commercial practices. With this bill, the fine could rise from 50% of the expenditure used to produce the advertising or greenwashing practice to 80%!
Greenwashing isn't the only deceptive marketing technique used by brands. For several years now, there's also been what's known as feminism washing. We've written an article on the subject :)
At Elia, transparency is at the heart of our DNA, and our commitments are real! If you'd like to find out more, check out our commitments to the fight against endometriosis, our eco-responsibility approach and our behind-the-scenes look at the production of our menstrual panties and on our Instagram!
Source: https: //www.wedressfair.fr/blog/le-greenwashing