Hey everyone, welcome to Sustainable Existing. This is episode 7, so that means I am just about halfway done with my Gold Award project for Girl Scouts. Thank you to everyone listening, reading the blog posts, and following me on social media. The love and support mean a lot. If you haven’t already, you can find my social media account, my email, the blog posts, and the podcast episodes on my website www.sustainableexisting.com. You can also find the podcast episodes on Spotify. Feel free to reach out with any comments, feedback, or ideas. I would love to talk to anyone about anything.
Being a Girl Scout, I already had a basic education of being environmentally friendly before creating Sustainable Existing. We were always taught to recycle whenever possible and to leave a space better than you found it. Once the rise of sustainability in the media reached me, I knew it was something I wanted to participate in and it was a perfect choice when my Gold Award project came around since I was getting into learning about sustainable choices. Just like in any story, there is the good guy, the bad guy, and the guy that seems good, but is secretly bad. The good guys in sustainability are honest companies that use resources to the fullest and are ethical. The bad guys are the companies that abuse resources and make unethical choices solely for profit and personal gain, like fast fashion brands that I’ve talked about in the last few episodes. The guys seeming to be good, but are secretly evil, are the companies that greenwash.
What is greenwashing? As I talked about before with the rise of sustainability, more people came to know about the movement from the media. The movement grew and companies were called out for their choices and their negative effects on the environment. With the demand of integrity from the public, some companies ignored the allegations against them, some companies owned up to their mistakes and switched their ways, but some companies faked change and covered up the bad they were doing. Greenwashing is when a company uses marketing techniques to make consumers think they are purchasing products that are eco-friendly and sustainable, so they continue buying from their company when in reality they make little change or effort to become eco-friendly.
There are several ways you can determine if a company is one that is greenwashing. The first and most important is to do your research beyond what the company advertises. Conveniently there are apps and websites to help guide you. Earthhero.com is your one-stop-shop for sustainable items. I have personally never used it, but other YouTubers and bloggers I watch and read have mentioned it is great. They have Clothing and footwear, Home, beauty, tech, and a range of various categories in which you can purchase from. A similar app is called Done Good (which is one I’ve mentioned in previous weeks. An app called Good on You rates fashion companies based on sustainability while also have select offers on certain companies. They also publish articles every few days on different sustainable topics. Beyond what some of these apps do, you can do your own research into the brand you are purchasing from.
When companies greenwash, they tend to be vague about how they are actually sustainable. They may mention that their products contain recycled material, when in reality the product may only contain 5% of recycled materials while the rest are fabrics that need to be newly produced. For instance, H&M is a fast fashion company. They make it seem like they collect donated materials and use them to produce new, sustainable products. According to I: Collect, the company that manages their donations, they only use 35% of what is collected and recycled into their products. These big-name companies often also have a “sustainable” line of clothing they release, but as long as they still produce fast fashion, they remain not sustainable.
A lot of companies will greenwash by saying they will make a change, but will often not participate in activism and not release a solid statement about anything sustainable. Sustainable companies will often include sustainability in their mission statements and take an active part in spreading awareness, but nonsustainable companies or companies that greenwash will put sustainability on the back burner and not make their true statement known. Above all, look for actions over words. Checking for certification like “BlueSign” and others can prove whether or not something is truly sustainable.
What can you do about Green Washing? Refuse to buy these items. Just like I mentioned in my fast fashion episode, simply not buying from a certain company will force them to produce less due to supply and demand which will force them to relook at what they are doing. Knowledge is power and teaching others just as I am teaching you is a great way to cause a widespread change. If you feel so strongly about, participate in activism. You have a voice and opinion, so use them. It may be discouraging if you have a smaller audience, but with persistence and reaching out to others to build a community, you will grow.
The biggest thing to remember, not specifically about greenwashing, is that every little change matters. It doesn’t matter if you change your entire schedule or just a few things in your daily life to be more conscious about your choices, you do make a difference. If everyone just blew it off, and that the change wasn’t worth it because it was too small, there would no change at all. Just as I said, knowledge is power, and one of the reasons I began Sustainable Existing was to encourage myself to make these changes as well as teaching all of you about them as well. It’s not about how much you start by doing, it’s about how much you grow throughout the process. No big change happens in just one day, its growth you must embrace and strive for. Thank you for reading this week's episode. Have a great week and remember to keep existing sustainably.