Greenwashing is a term that represents the worst excesses of corporate responsibility and environmental marketing. It’s a practice used by companies to give the impression that they care about the environment, and their impact on it. When in reality, their actions say otherwise. 

This article will explore what greenwashing is and why it is so damaging to brands. We’ll also look at recent examples of greenwashing and how you can avoid being accused of it as a brand owner yourself!

What Is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing, in simplest terms, is where a company makes false or misleading claims about its sustainability, environmental practices, or social impact. These statements could be in advertising or on a company’s website. And they might be backed up by using certain logos, images, or phrases. To put it another way, greenwashing is the use of green marketing that is not backed up by genuine sustainability efforts. 

There are a number of reasons why companies engage in greenwashing. Many are simply trying to appear socially responsible and may not fully understand how to actually make changes that reduce their impact on the environment. Others might be looking to cash in on rising demand for green products and services without changing their business model. Greenwashing is a growing problem, as the importance of sustainability to consumers grows. 

This can make it hard to tell which companies are actually committed to their sustainable practices, and which ones are just making promises they can’t keep. It has become critical that consumers understand the signs of greenwashing, and know how to identify false sustainability claims.

Why Is Greenwashing Bad?

The biggest issue with greenwashing is that it leads to false expectations. If a company makes promises about being environmentally friendly but fails to actually follow through on them, then customers are going to be disappointed when they don’t see real change. Greenwashing could also be harmful to consumers for another reason. If a brand falsely advertises itself as eco-friendly, customers might go to them first when they want to make sustainable choices. However, if that company isn’t sustainable, environmentally conscious customers will be left out in the cold. 

This is what makes greenwashing such a problem for the sustainability movement as a whole. If people don’t know which brands to trust, then they will be less likely to make sustainable choices. This could slow down the growth of eco-friendly and sustainable practices across the board.

How to Avoid Accusations of Greenwashing

The best way to avoid accusations of greenwashing is to actually be sustainable. This might sound obvious, but it’s the best way to avoid being accused of false advertising. If you are committed to sustainable practices, those efforts will shine through in everything you do. Of course, not every brand is ready to commit to sustainability just yet. If that’s the case, then here are a few tips that could help you avoid greenwashing: 

  1. First, understand what sustainability means. This is the first step toward making sure your efforts are legitimate. Make sure you know what makes up a sustainable business. 

    Once you understand the basics, you can look more closely at your operations to see how they stack up.
  2. Next, be honest about the work that needs to be done. This is a critical step for any business trying to make changes to become more sustainable. No one expects a brand to be fully sustainable overnight. If you make changes and acknowledge that work is still ongoing, then customers are less likely to accuse you of false advertising. 
  3. Finally, don’t forget the importance of transparency. If you’re aiming to make sustainable changes, then be transparent about them. Make sure customers see your efforts, and hold yourself accountable for following through with them.

Once you understand the basics, you can look more closely at your operations to see how they stack up.

Some Recent Examples of Greenwashing

There are plenty of recent examples of greenwashing. Here are a few of the most notable:

  1. Nestle – Nestle faced criticisms for greenwashing. Their continuous production of bottles promotes plastic pollution, and that’s commonly believed to be bad for the environment.
  2. LG – LG received backlash for greenwashing. 
    According to the Choice consumer advocate publication, LG Electronics has marketed two refrigerator models with false energy efficiency labels. The two models, L197NFS and P197WFS, contained an illegal device that could manipulate the refrigerators’ energy efficiency results when tested in professional conditions. Choice discovered that these two models consumed significantly more energy than advertised: 876 kilowatt hours per year compared to 738.
  3. Colgate-Palmolive– Colgate-Palmolive faced accusations of greenwashing after they claimed that they were sustainable and made promises to stop deforestation. They created a partnership with other organizations in 2020 to promise to cease all deforestation, yet they continue to do this. This has led to rainforest destruction and releasing large quantities of carbon into the atmosphere, thereby leading to the death of hundreds of endangered species.

Differences between Greenwashing and Green marketing

Greenwashing occurs when a company uses marketing practices to appear environmentally friendly. Greenwashing can be challenging to prove because many companies do not openly acknowledge their green practices. 

Green marketing, on the other hand, is an advertising technique that promotes the benefits of organic products and treats them with respect. In order to qualify as green marketing, companies must demonstrate a commitment to organic production in addition to using organic ingredients and minimizing their environmental impact.

Greenwashing and green marketing are often confused because both are designed to promote the use of organic (or “natural” or “healthy”) products. However, green marketing is more likely to have an ethical or environmental component, whereas greenwashing is just about making money.


Greenwashing is a severe issue that can harm businesses and the environment. To avoid being accused of this harmful practice, be honest about your sustainability efforts and don’t make false claims. This will help you earn the trust of your customers and help them make sustainable choices. 

To learn more about how your business can become more sustainable, check out our previous blog