What is greenwashing?

Similar to judging celebrity Met Gala looks while you’re rotting in bed with dirty sweatpants, “greenwashing” is all about talking the talk, but not walking the walk.

As more Canadian investors shell out money to environmentally conscious companies (though interest has pulled back recently, with investment dropping $200 billion from 2019 to 2021), businesses are rushing to answer the call, releasing products and practices that help the Earth. 

But, sometimes companies make things appear more environmentally friendly than they really are, as a way to reel in investor money without having to do the work. Enter, greenwashing.

Some examples:

  • Vague statements on packaging like “eco-friendly” or “sustainable,” with no further information on what that means.
  • Companies publicly touting their commitment to the environment, but privately lobbying against government climate policy.

This is more common than you’d probably think. A global study found that 40% of green claims made online could be misleading consumers. 

In Canada, it’s illegal to make outright false, misleading, or unsupported environmental claims. The competition watchdog is currently investigating Lululemon after an environmental group complained that the company started its “Be Planet” marketing campaign in 2020, but has since doubled its greenhouse gas emissions.