Greenwashing, we read and see more about it in the media, but what is it exactly? Greenwashing basically means it's a marketing ploy that companies use to appear more sustainable than they actually are. Sometimes they are aware of it, sometimes they are not, but it’s still greenwashing. One of the negative effects of greenwashing is that it affects the social norms of sustainable consumption in a negative way. A harmful distraction that undermines real progress and puts honest companies behind.
Where will you find greenwashing?
Greenwashing, unfortunately, is everywhere. It can be an unsustainable clothing brand that sets up a 'conscious' line. It is the company that sells oil but advertises with beautifully filmed nature. It can be a proud social media post about what a company has contributed to a better world, but then not share in what further negative way they contribute to the planet. They are unsubstantiated and misleading claims for consumers, as they create false associations between the brand and nature.
What you can do to avoid falling for the misleading claim is to look into what and where you are buying something. Look beyond the green logo or the beautiful texts that say how sustainable something is. Words like "conscious", "dedicated", "environmentally friendly" or "green" look great but are difficult to substantiate with facts. Look for more specific claims such as: made from 90% recycled material. If claims are made, look at how a company actually lives up to them. Check whether the product is explained and/or visit the website.
Fossil-Free NL fights against greenwashing
Fortunately, we don't have to figure it all out ourselves. For example, there are online armies of fact-checkers who have already done the work for you. Like Good on You en re/make. But there are also organizations that battle against large companies. For example, you have Fossielvrij NL. They are tackling the climate crisis by organizing a strong, locally rooted citizen movement that breaks the power of coal, oil and gas companies. They ensure that public institutions - such as pension funds, museums and schools - sever their ties with fossil companies. Fossielvrij NL is a small, powerful organization with committed people. With a team of four employees and six board members, they support the Fossil Free movement in the Netherlands.
For example, Fossiel Free has managed to get the civil servant and teacher pension fund ABP to stop investing in fossil companies in 7 years of campaigning. Fossielvrij has also filed a lawsuit against KLM. It's about KLM's Fly Responsibly campaign. In it, KLM says it is creating 'a more sustainable future', which, according to Fossil Free, can be disputed. According to Fossielvrij, KLM must stop misleading advertising about sustainable flying. In May, Fossil Free KLM warned at the shareholders' meeting in Paris that they would file a lawsuit if they did not stop their misleading advertising. On July 6, 2022, they submitted the writ of summons to the Amsterdam court. Fossil-free demands that KLM stop with these advertisements. Instead, KLM should tell the honest story about the climate-disrupting consequences of flying and the need to downsize aviation.
What does Greenjobs.nl do to fulfill their sustainability claims?
But what about Greenjobs.nl and what are we doing to fulfill our sustainability claims? First of all, Greenjobs.nl is against greenwashing and do not want organizations to use our platform to appear better than they actually are. That is why Greenjobs.nl checks every vacancy that is posted to see whether the companies that want to place vacancies on our platform really belong on our sustainable job bank. Greenjobs.nl is fully owned and therefore we have no investors behind us, who are not sustainable. Greenjobs.nl is also a B Corp, which means that we operate transparently with an eye for employees, social aspects and the environment. You don't just get a B Corp certification, you go through an assessment that you have to go through every 3 years. The goal as a B Corp is to actually become a force for good and it is being monitored to see if that is really the case. In short, Greenjobs.nl is transparent, pays attention to their users and try to inform people about what greenwashing is and how you can pay attention to it.
Tips for podcasts about Greenwashing
B Corp's 'Forces for Good' podcast series, which tells the story of the change of economic systems through the lens of the B Corp movement, has a separate episode on greenwashing. 'How can Business Combat Greenwashing' tells you more about greenwashing and how to recognize it and elaborates on this blog. A must listen!
At the end of the day, we are all consumers. So be critical of sustainability claims in advertisements, labels or packaging and continue to listen to critical voices. Ask yourself if you can do more or better, but don't forget to pat yourself on the back every now and then for everything you already do.
Did you find this blog interesting? You might also like to read one of these blogs!