Greenwashing in Major Stores, What to Look For
So, I was at the 99 cent store and saw items like this:
Now if you are new to sustainability and trying your best to make better consumer decisions and you see a product like the one above.
You would likely think “This is awesome, it's way better for the environment!”
That is EXACTLY what brands and companies are betting on with misleading packaging, false claims, and service level “change”. This is called greenwashing and I did an entire video on my YouTube channel about what it is and things to look out for, which I will link below and I HIGHLY recommend understanding because there is a TON of greenwashing going on.
However, if you don't know what it is or what to look for here are a few tips regarding this specific product I saw and see continually.
- The first thing I want to point out and most obvious is the overall packaging- both of these “alternative” brushes are packaged in the same thick non-recyclable and non-recycled packaging. Zero effort went into invest in alternative packaging materials.
- The fact that it says “eco-friendly” handle. This is a major buzzword, they don't go into detail on HOW it is eco-friendly, no reliable third-party certification, nothing just a neutral color scheme and a flashy word.
- Let's talk about the corn-based plastic handle:
- Bioplastics such as corn can ONLY break down in an industrial composting facility using heat and microorganisms in a controlled environment. If you don't have one of those they end up just sitting there like plastic.
- Corn-bio products use genetically modified corn (GMO’s which is a whole other topic in itself) in addition to using up precious resources such as land, water, and energy. Corn for bio-plastics also uses unsustainable and harmful agricultural practices such as replanting the same crop, using chemical fertilizers, and pesticides. All of these depletes the soil, creating soil runoff ( not so fun fact, we are depleting our topsoil, losing 1% a year, we have about 2-3 inches left).
SO, this is just one example of surface-level change aka greenwashing, and if you don't know what to look for it is so easy to fall for. I know what to look for and there have been some items that still got me (sneaky bastards). My personal favorites are the straws and bamboo toothbrushes wrapped in plastic. Priceless (and a BIG indicator of greenwashing).