Today, sustainability is one of the main keys to a better future for us, and the planet: to restore what has been damaged over the years. Many companies are now trying to find a balance between human needs and the availability of natural resources, looking for products with a low environmental impact and a way to reuse them. But other companies are faking sustainability, by “greenwashing” their products, using their marketing to create misleading claims about their “sustainability” in order to sell their products.
A 2015 Nielsen poll showed that 66% of global customers are willing to pay more to a sustainable product, and this percentage grows even more with the younger population, Millennials and Generation Z. This desire of consumers to want to buy something sustainable, even if it’s more pricey, shows the global concern on the environment, but it also leaves a big window for those companies that just want to profit out of this phenomenon.
For example, take the water company Fiji, the most imported water in the United States, which claims that environmental sustainability is one of their top priorities. Two of Fiji's main advertisements claim that their product is carbon-negative and that "every drop is green." But in reality it is all a lie, except the fact that the water comes from Fiji, their PLASTIC bottles are made in a Chinese diesel-powered factory, and because of its unique square shape, the bottle uses more plastic than normal plastic bottles. And the most concerning issue is that while Fiji water is being exported worldwide, 47% of Fijians don’t have access to safe drinking water (npr.org).
Another example of shameless greenwashing are the advertisements for “green coal,” a fossil fuel that is responsible for a larger amount of greenhouse gas emissions. The difference between coal and clean coal, is that during the process of turning it into energy they are handled differently, clean coal uses the method called carbon capture. Carbon capture is separated from the air before leaving the power plant, and then its later piped underground so it doesn't leak to the atmosphere, meaning that they are only throwing the problem elsewhere. Like the propaganda below shows that Clean coal is only used as marketing for coal companies to maintain their images to the public (The economist).
Greenwashing is also predominantly present in industries such as fast fashion, which are companies that recreate runway/high fashion clothing designs and produce them at low cost. Fast fashion has allowed the public to have access to low cost “designer clothes' and also giving quick access to the new trends, but what are the consequences of this industry in the environment and society? The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of the global human carbon emissions and up to 85% of textiles end up in a dump each year, in which many of those textiles are made of polyester, plastic material that is 3 times more likely to release carbon emissions and fiber in the water then cotton, according to Business Insider. Because of the very low prices many of the fast fashion companies produce their clothing in countries with the lowest minimum wages in the world and fiew laws protecting the workers, and overtime fast fashion companies are often seen in child labour scandals or poor working conditions. In 2013 a building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed and killed more than 1,100 workers and left more than 2000 wounded. The day before the accident, large cracks had appeared in the building, and in order to solve the problem, engineers were called and determined it as unsafe, but workers were still asked to come to work on the day of the tragedy. The building held several factories for brands like Walmart, Primark and Benetton.
To solve the situation in which we find ourselves, today's generations will have to make decisions that can impact everyone's life and future. We can reduce the cost of clothing and products that are not good for the environment, such as choosing quality over quantity. Choose to buy clothes from ethical stores that actually help the environment and promote the well being of its workers, and boycott those that choose to greenwash their companies and continue to have large pollution and carbon emissions. It is up to us to choose a better future.
Video Recommendations From Alice:
“A Bottled-Water Drama In Fiji.” NPR, NPR, 1 Dec. 2010,
“Collapse at Rana Plaza.” Ethics Unwrapped, 24 Oct. 2018, ethicsunwrapped.utexas.edu/video/collapse-at-rana-plaza.
“Consumer-Goods' Brands That Demonstrate Commitment to Sustainability Outperform Those That Don't.” Nielsen, 10 Dec. 2015,
McFall-Johnsen, Morgan. “The Fashion Industry Emits More Carbon than International Flights and Maritime Shipping Combined. Here Are the Biggest Ways It Impacts the Planet.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 21 Oct. 2019,
“Clean Coal :60 TV Spot ‘I Believe.’” YouTube, YouTube, 16 Apr. 2008,
“The Fuel of the Future, Unfortunately.” The Economist, The Economist Newspaper,