Today, more and more companies seem to be making the push for more environmentally friendly products. From restaurants making the change from plastic to paper straws to finding different methods to conserve energy – it can seem like we are living in the green age. All these changes help the planet, but they also happen to help the company’s image.  

Given the choice, a large portion of consumers will choose the greener product. This is what leads corporations to more aggressively push the “green” message through advertising.  This is known as “greenwashing”, and while it has been a common practice for quite some time, in recent years it has increased dramatically. 

A recent example of this can be found in Starbucks. This year, facing more and more pressure to remove plastic straws, the coffee giant introduced a new straw-less coffee-lid.  This move was met with nearly universal praise and customers jumped at the opportunity to use the new lids. However, it was soon discovered that these new lids actually used more plastic then the straws they were meant to replace. Nevertheless, the change brought attention to the company and quite a few new customers.

Another corporation that is guilty of greenwashing is Wal-Mart. In 2017, the superstore opted to settle for $1 million for selling plastics that were irresponsibly being marketed as environmentally friendly.  The products all had “compostable” or bio-degradable” on the packaging. 

Greenwashing is not likely to disappear any time soon, as long as it keeps bringing companies increased profits. However, it is possible to avoid these false purchases. All it takes is a little bit of research. If you as a consumer truly wish to help the environment, make sure to do your own research online instead of merely trusting any packaging or commercials.