What can consumers do about Greenwashing?

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Thinking "Green" has permeated into our society. It is usually not necessary to explain how our environment has been worsened by humans in the last century; it is a part of our reality, and many Canadians actively participate in sustainable solutions. Whether it is as simple as separating our trash in blue and green bags, or biking to work instead of driving, many Canadians have invested time and energy towards the betterment of our environment.
Corporations are aware of this mentality and know that the environment is a relevant issue today. Corporate social responsibility is a term used to describe a form of social good that a business will invest time and money into, seemingly beyond its own economic interests. Businesses have been applying this relatively new approach to environmentalism in particular, in response to its increase of relevance in society.


This new business norm is a good thing because many large companies are using their strong capital platforms to facilitate sustainable solutions throughout branding. For example, Coca Cola advertises its dedication to reducing emissions by streamlining its delivery and distribution system to achieve maximum efficiency. Another aspect of Coca Cola's environmental strategy is in the packaging of its products; many bottles are made in part from recycled plant materials, and all are generally recyclable.

These initiatives are environmentally productive and a very necessary aspect of society today. We need the large corporations of the world to use their influence to promote sustainable solutions. There is a problem, however, in this opportunistic corporate social responsibility movement. Many corporations have been using society's environmental concern to their advantage through the usage of "Greenwashing". Greenwashing is a deceptive marketing technique used to create the perception that a product or a company's policies are environmentally friendly. Greenwashing efforts can be seen when conventional labeling or branding is changed to represent environmental sustainability without real associated changes to the product or company. Greenwashing becomes especially dangerous when branding is just vague enough to be misunderstood by the consumer, but not directly fraudulent.

There is a fine line between true social responsibility and social responsibility for the sake of increasing profits. Large corporations have a critical role in society today with an immense amount of public sway and attention. With very loose regulation around greenwashing in Canada, it is our responsibility as consumers to uphold our own environmental standards in the products we consume and to conduct our own research to make sure that what we buy meets our own standards. We have to be vigilant and persistent to be sure that our values are communicated to the companies we buy from.

As we will inevitably use our planet's resources, it is important that we ensure to create our own personal standards that reflect our environmental knowledge. If we all created environmental standards to abide by, we could each create our own social responsibility in the world and could even see firsthand how our contributions make their impact on our planet.

Organizations: Coca Cola

Geographic location: Canada

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