Greenwashing: why your business should steer clear

Hand painting white surface with green paint

Greenwashing: why your business should steer clear

In the wake of COP26 the pressure is on governments and businesses to take action to tackle climate change. This means cleaning up their act and encouraging others to do the same to avoid a global crisis. As if there wasn’t already enough on their plates? The temptation for ‘greenwashing’ to bide some time is appealing.

But what is greenwashing and why is it so bad?

It’s a term that’s been around since the 1980s. But it feels like it has been used more than ever in 2021. Don’t expect that to change in 2022 as business and political leaders grapple with the COP26 resolutions. The problem is a reputation one – something us PR people work hard to protect.

So let’s take a closer look.

What is greenwashing?

Greenwashing is when you try to make your business or products look more environmentally friendly than they are. This might be by adding false claims to your marketing or by making one area of your business more green and ignoring other parts because they’re harder to fix.

An example of this is carbon offsetting your business travel but not looking at ways you can actually cut back your emissions.

Why it’s best to steer clear

Research has shown that people want to buy from brands that look after the environment. So presenting your business as a green market player is good for your bottom line.

However, if your claims are flimsy that’s greenwashing and it could backfire, damaging your business. Customers will be angry that they have been misled and have themselves been distracted from their green goals.

Not only that, but you could also fall foul of consumer law. In September the Competition and Markets Authority published the Green Claims Code.

The code includes a set of criteria to ensure brands’ claims are truthful, substantiated and do not exaggerate their positive environmental impact. UK businesses now have until 2022 to remove greenwashing from their marketing.

This is why being green is about much more than putting on a show. Your business’ commitment to reducing its carbon footprint has to extend beyond your marketing and PR campaigns.

If your brand is serious about sharing the story of its green journey then we’d love to help. Amplify PR is a Southampton-based PR and content marketing agency offering media relations, content marketing and video marketing among other services to build our clients’ reputations.