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greenwashing: What is it and How to Avoid it

What is Greenwashing 

Have you ever bought into a company’s sustainability claims, only to realize you were being misled? Imagine a manufacturer stamping their laundry detergent with a green leaf and an ambiguous “eco-friendly” label—just to discover the company is guilty of violating the clean water act. Consider yourself a victim of greenwashing, a deceitful tactic companies take to appear “greener” than they are. Companies can greenwash, even if their intentions are pure. According to Philip Beere, VP of marketing at Sightline Payments, greenwashing can often be a result of overenthusiasm. Surveys have shown that 64% of Gen X consumers would be willing to pay more for a brand that is making efforts towards sustainable manufacturing but knowing this can make for an attractive marketing strategy. However, this results in distrust between consumers and all companies making sustainability claims. When do consumers know if they’re being deceived by a company they have put their trust in? In this article, we’ll cover examples of greenwashing, how to spot it, and what GenHydro is doing to prevent it.  


Examples of Greenwashing 

Greenwashing is a spectrum. While some companies are guilty of using misleading packaging, others try to come across as sustainable by making claims of lower emissions. An example of greenwashing in packaging seen every day is plastic water bottles. Often covered in blooming flowers, untouched lakes and flourishing wildlife—even when they have a serious and long-lasting impact on the environment. Not only is plastic made from petroleum, but plastic bottles often end up in landfills where it will take as long as 450 years to break down. Even when properly separated, large amounts of plastic waste are shipped to Asian countries, where the plastic is commonly not recycled and ends up polluting low-income communities and waterways.  Some of the more obvious examples of greenwashing in greenhouse gas emissions reporting have come from the energy industry. While many companies are operating in good faith and seeking to lower their emissions, there are others who are utilizing renewable energy projects as a way to portray themselves as “sustainability driven.” In reality, these companies continue to grow their highest emitting operations. Numerous oil and gas companies have been called out for only using a fraction of their budgets on renewable energy projects, while spending most of their funds on increasing fossil fuel production.  


How to Identify Greenwashing  

There are lots of things to look out for when trying to stay wise to greenwashing when shopping or supporting a company with claims of low or zero emissions technology.  

Look out for images of nature or buzzwords

  • Companies are notorious for using phrases like “green” or “eco-friendly” on their packaging, even though they aren’t applicable to any scientific standards. Choose products that have specific claims like “70% organic cotton” or “100% recycled plastic” to avoid greenwashed products. 

Do your own research

  • Aim to buy from brands that seem authentic, transparent, and mission driven. Oftentimes greenwashed brands come from a hidden parent company who saw the opportunity to profit off the “green” trend.  

Make the investment

  • If you are buying from sustainable companies, they sometimes cost more. Be careful of super cheap “eco-friendly” product offerings, and don’t be afraid to ask the manufacturers questions if it seems too good to be true.

Some certifications to look for on consumer products are: 

  • Certified B Corporation 
  • EWG Verified 
  • Fairtrade International 
  • Climate Neutral 
  • Forest Stewardship Council 
  • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) 
  • Leaping Bunny Program 
  • PETA 


How GenHydro Combats Greenwashing 

At GenHydro, we are committed to avoiding greenwashing claims because we believe that true sustainability is vital to combating climate change. Our goal for developing zero emissions renewable energy technologies has to do with our strong belief in a zero emissions future. GenHydro is committed to being a part of the transition to renewable energy with a culture of valuing transparency and innovation. We are working with third party firms to validate all the claims around our technology and products including: how much carbon our process really offsets, the safety of our solid fuel for hydrogen production, the safety of our production byproducts for application in other industries, and the environmental impact of our supply chain and construction requirements. Trustworthiness is a pillar of the GenHydro community. We put trust in our people, trust in our tech, and trust in our mission, and hope you can do the same.  


Join our mailing list today for more updates on our strides towards a zero emissions future.  


Written by Allison Messick