What is greenwashing

What is Greenwashing?

Do designers have a moral duty to check if their clients are guilty of it before working with them?

It seems like every other news story is currently focused on climate change. There’s no denying it, it’s happening, and many businesses are now looking at reducing their environmental impact and looking at ways to become more sustainable. 

While many businesses are doing their best to cut down their CO2 emissions and help the planet, some are trying to pull the wool over their customer’s eyes using a technique called ‘Greenwashing’.

The controversial term ‘greenwashing’ is a marketing technique companies use to give the illusion that their products or services are more environmentally friendly than they are. Companies do this to benefit from the current environmental trends and attract consumers who prefer to shop with an ethical mindset.

Greenwashing can take a variety of forms. For example, a company may falsely claim its product is 100% organic when it’s only made with a few organic ingredients. They may also make misleading or unsubstantiated claims about the product’s environmental benefits, such as that it has reduced water usage or emissions. Some companies even go as far as to highlight how “green” they are while not disclosing information about their own environmentally-damaging activities.

The truth is, companies engage in greenwashing because they know it will boost sales and improve their public image. Many people care deeply about the environment and want to do their part to protect it. Businesses realise that if they position themselves as eco-friendly, they’ll be more likely to make money.

The problem with greenwashing is that it takes advantage of consumers and puts genuine efforts to protect the environment at risk. When companies greenwash their products, consumers may feel deceived and misled, especially if they discover false or unsubstantiated claims. The effects of this kind of behaviour can also discourage other businesses from actually engaging in sustainability efforts, as they will have difficulty competing with companies that engage in greenwashing.

Should designers have a moral duty to see if businesses are guilty of Greenwashing before working with them?

It’s essential that graphic designers and marketers get a good understanding of a client’s background before they start working with them, especially if they are producing designs for products or campaigns that claim to be sustainable, environmentally friendly or 100% organic. If you need clarification on a client, it’s always a good idea to ask for more information about their environmental practices. Not only is it morally correct to be transparent with the consumer, but it will also help protect designers and marketers from any blowback from missleading work. 

As Designers and marketers, we have the ability and power to try and lead clients into a cleaner and brighter future. Together, we can combat greenwashing and ensure that businesses are honest and transparent about their efforts to reduce their environmental impact.