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Don't Be Fooled by Greenwashing


As the public’s awareness of environmental issues and desire to lead healthier lives which benefit ourselves and the planet grows, so too does corporate advertising which appeals to our green sensibilities. Unfortunately not all products advertised as environmentally friendly, or ‘all natural’ are what they claim and this is where greenwashing comes in. Greenwashing is the act of misleading consumers about the environmental practices of a company, the source or natural/environmental benefits of a product or the motivation behind a company’s decision to become more ‘green’. As consumers we need to be aware of greenwashing so we can support those products and companies that are authentic and voice our concerns against those who are guilty of the practice.

Greenwashing can be as simple as a company claiming their product will save water, when in fact it has not been tested, or as nasty as a company claiming their product is ‘all natural’ when it contains carcinogenic ingredients. It is important for us to scrutinise the things we buy to ensure we are not only doing the right thing by the environment, but are also buying products that are safe for ourselves and our families. I had the unfortunate experience of purchasing a skincare product which had the claim of 100% natural but when I read the ingredients I noticed a non-natural, potentially carcinogenic ingredient. On contacting the company they wondered why it was a problem when there was only a ‘tiny’ amount in there – I was not amused.

So if you want to buy organic, environmentally friendly products you need to be vigilant.

So how can we tell if something is truthful in making the green/organic claim? Read the ingredients and compare it to a competitor’s non-green claiming product, if they are the same then where is the green claim coming from? If a product is organically or environmentally certified it will, most likely, have a logo somewhere on the product. Be careful of this one though as companies can make up their own logo that looks good but means nothing. To see some legitimate certification logos you can go to Choice online at and and don’t forget to take note of the star rating system when buying appliances.

Organisations have become very clever at marketing to capture the green consumer. A simple way some companies use to make us think their product is natural is by utilising packaging that looks recycled or has pretty pictures of frogs or rainforests – we automatically think it is green but don’t stop to check. Another insidious but ridiculous claim of health and greenness comes from bottled water – hello, it is packaged in plastic and comes from goodness knows where on all sorts of transport – so not good!

So if you want to buy organic, environmentally friendly products you need to be vigilant. Hopefully there will be advertising standards and legal framework in the future which will require all claims made by a company regarding its products to be 100% true, but until then it is up to us, the little people, to read between the lines of advertising and choose our products carefully. Once we find great products that are what they claim, share them with your friends, family and websites such as this one, and let everyone know. As we all know, together we can make a difference.


More info on certification standards:


about the author

Dionne ListerDionne Lister was born and raised in Sydney and apart from some minor overseas travel hasn’t moved anywhere else. She met her husband through surfing however has had no time for that lately because of her two young children, kindly bestowed upon her by said husband.

She is sensible and works to earn money, however loves writing in her spare time and wishes, as most creative people do, that she could earn her living from such a past-time. Dionne hopes her articles are informative and entertaining and would love some adoring fan-mail ;-)

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