Before delving into the strategies, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of greenwashing. Greenwashing occurs when companies use vague, misleading, or false claims to deceive consumers into believing they are environmentally friendly. This misleading communication can manifest in various forms, including ambiguous language, unsubstantiated claims, irrelevant green imagery, cherry-picked data, and association with broader environmental movements. By familiarising ourselves with the tactics used in greenwashing, we can better navigate the path to sustainability and avoid greenwashing claims.
The Green Claims Code
The Green Claims Code was initially published in 2021 and developed by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). It was set out with 6 key points to check that environmental claims are genuine and designed for businesses to ensure any environmental claims on goods and services are not misleading customers. The steps which you can take to ensure you are not misleading customers can be found here Green Claims Checklist.
Recently, there has been new information released about using green claims, businesses will now face much tighter regulations under the proposed new laws under the digital markets, competition and consumer bill, in April 2023. Moving forward, businesses could face fines of up to 10% of global turnover for breaches of consumer law, including greenwashing.
1. Embrace Transparent and Specific Language
One of the most effective ways to avoid greenwashing is by using transparent and specific language in your communications. Avoid vague terms such as “natural” or “eco-friendly” without substantiating their meaning. Instead, provide concrete examples of your company’s environmental efforts and their tangible benefits. For instance, if your product reduces carbon emissions by a certain percentage, clearly state this achievement. By being specific and transparent, you build trust with consumers and demonstrate your commitment to genuine sustainability.
2. Verify and Validate Your Claims
To ensure the authenticity of your sustainability claims, it is essential to verify and validate them. Avoid making false or exaggerated statements about your product’s environmental impact or sustainability efforts. Conduct thorough research, engage in carbon assessment, or seek third-party certifications to substantiate your claims. Third-party certifications from reputable organizations add credibility to your sustainability initiatives and provide consumers with the assurance that your claims are legitimate.
3. Communicate Concrete Actions and Progress
Demonstrating tangible actions and progress is vital in avoiding greenwashing and building credibility. Communicate your company’s sustainability initiatives, such as renewable energy usage, waste reduction programs, or supply chain transparency. Highlight key milestones and measurable goals you have achieved or are actively working towards. Align your efforts with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to showcase your commitment to broader global sustainability targets and initiatives.
4. Practice Full Disclosure
To avoid cherry-picking data and presenting a skewed image of your sustainability efforts, practice full disclosure. Be transparent about both your successes and areas for improvement. Publish an annual environmental impact report that outlines your company’s carbon emissions, water usage, waste generation, and other relevant metrics. Acknowledge any challenges you face and outline strategies to overcome them. Full disclosure demonstrates your commitment to continuous improvement and fosters trust among consumers.
5. Educate and Engage with Consumers
Empower consumers by educating them about sustainability and your company’s efforts. Develop educational content that raises awareness about environmental issues and provides practical tips for sustainable living. Engage with your audience through social media, blog posts, or newsletters to foster a sense of community and collaboration. Encourage consumers to participate in your sustainability initiatives, such as recycling programs or community clean-up events. By involving consumers in your sustainability journey, you create a shared commitment to a greener future.
Tunley: Your Partner in Authentic Sustainability
At Tunley, we understand the importance of avoiding greenwashing and promoting sustainability. Our expertise lies in helping businesses navigate the complexities of environmental responsibility. Through our carbon assessment services, we assist companies in accurately measuring and reducing their carbon footprint. By relying on our proven methodologies and tools, you can ensure that your sustainability claims are backed by solid data and align with industry best practices. Together, we can make a significant difference in achieving a sustainable future.
In a world where environmental responsibility is crucial, businesses need to prioritize authentic sustainability and avoid the pitfalls of greenwashing. By embracing transparent language, verifying and validating claims, communicating concrete actions, practicing full disclosure, and engaging with consumers, companies can promote genuine sustainability and build lasting trust. Tunley is here to support you on this journey, offering carbon assessments and expert guidance to ensure your business aligns with ethical and environmentally friendly practices. Let’s work together to create a greener and more sustainable world.
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