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How to Avoid Greenwashing in Your Ethical Marketing Strategy

Even sustainable startups and eco-entrepreneurs can get caught up in greenwashing if they’re not careful! As a consumer, there’s nothing worse than picking up a product thinking it’s benefiting your health or the environment only to find out later, it was all a lie. 

Consumers are more aware of environmental and health challenges they face more than ever and spend accordingly.  “A recent study by NielsenIQ found that 78 percent of US consumers say that a sustainable lifestyle is important to them.” And “Products making ESG-related claims averaged 28 percent cumulative growth over the past five-year period, versus 20 percent for products that made no such claims,” according to consulting firm McKinsey & Company. 

But don’t worry, we’ve got your back. As a purpose-driven marketing agency, we’re all about helping brands grow sustainably while raking in those sweet, sweet profits. And the first step?  Assume all your customers will do their research, consumers are more informed than ever, and are a few searches away from finding out the truth about your claims. On TikTok and Instagram the trends of natural living, zero waste skincare, and sustainability influencers are on the rise. If you’re not honest about your product/service, people will cancel you, even baby-boomers.


We’ve also compiled a list of what not to do and strategies that you can start implementing now and in the future. 


Greenwashing Strategies Don’ts 


1. No More Fluffy Words Around How Green Your Product is 

Say goodbye to tossing around words like confetti. Avoid terms like “eco-friendly” or “natural” if they’re as vague as a fortune cookie. Keep it real.


2. Transparent Business Operations 

Don’t fall for the smoke and mirrors. Watch out for those sneaky companies selling green products but running a dirty operation behind the scenes. Make sustainability part of your business model. Implement sustainable practices from manufacturing to waste disposal. It’s not just good for the planet—it’s good for business.


3. Imperfection Over Inauthenticity

Avoid branding images that give off a false green vibe. Don’t let your ads and packaging paint a misleading picture. No using the color green or images of nature to imply eco-friendliness if it’s not the real deal. 



4. Clear Call-To-Actions

Make your claims crystal clear. None of that wishy-washy stuff. Instead of saying “Contains sustainable materials,” be specific and say “Made with 50% recycled polyester.”


5. Accurate Data 

Back up those sustainability claims with hard data. Keep it current and verifiable. And hey, toss in some third-party certifications from sources like Carbon Trust Standard or Rainforest Alliance for good measure. 


6. Honest Comparisons 

When comparing your product’s sustainability to the competition, make sure you’re comparing similar products so you’re not misleading consumers. 


7. Transparency is Key

Be real about how eco-friendly your brand is and what you’re doing to make things better. Tell your customers all about it! Oh, and don’t forget to set some clear goals and deadlines so they can keep you in check. Transparency is key.



Green & Ethical Marketing Strategies

So what is green marketing then? It’s all about being practical, honest, and transparent. Here are some standard guidelines: 

  1. Make sure products are made sustainably, like no harm to the planet along the way.
  2. Not made with toxic materials or environmentally harmful substances.
  3. Opt for stuff that can be recycled or made from recycled materials. Think renewable, like bamboo!
  4. No snatching stuff from protected areas or messing with endangered critters.
  5. Fair wages and no slave labor, obviously.
  6. Say no to excessive packaging—it’s wasteful!
  7. Oh, and products that can be fixed up instead of tossed out? That’s the dream!
  8. Get certified! Check out the following infographic for what’s actually legit. 


Walk the Walk

At the end of the day, your marketing claims need to be backed up by real, tangible actions within your company. Are you actually reducing waste, conserving energy, and minimizing your environmental impact? What about in your supply-chain? Or are your “eco-friendly” claims all talk?

Conscious consumers can sniff out inauthenticity from a mile away, so make sure you’re truly living those sustainable values. Because let’s be real: being an eco-warrior is a total flex!

Ditch the greenwashing, embrace transparency, get those eco-certifications, and most importantly, walk the sustainable walk. Your brand (and your bottom line) will thank you for it.

Now get out there and market ethically! The future of our planet depends on it. Need some help getting there? We can help you craft a high-converting green marketing campaign, get in touch with the form below or schedule a call today.


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