How to Shop Sustainably
6 Ways to Identify and Avoid Greenwashing
By Easy Eco Tips
As people are increasingly aware of their impact on the planet, many companies have seen this as a great business potential. Unfortunately many of them just try to appear eco-friendly through their image and marketing rather than through real changes. It is called “greenwashing”. So where can we find brands that we can trust to be better for the planet?
“Greenwashing” is the practice of marketing a product or a brand as being greener or more environmentally friendly than they really are. Unfortunately, in today’s world, we are bombarded by ads for products that claim to be “eco-friendly”, “green”, “bio”, “natural”, but when we look closely, we realize that these claims are unsupported.
How can we identify and avoid greenwashing?
It’s not always easy, but here we give you a few tips that you can follow to try and identify greenwashing:
- Be cautious of products making generic claims like “100% natural” or “environmentally friendly” without information as to how or why.
2. Avoid products that make irrelevant claims, like “CFC-free” (CFCs -Chlorofluorocarbons are ozone-depleting substances that were banned more than 20 years ago)
3. Look for a seal or certification mark from a recognized, independent third party specializing in green claims.
4. Look for the packaging: while a product may be green, is the packaging green as well?
5. Don’t be misled by pretty pictures or use of earth-friendly colors on product labels. McDonalds or Coca-Cola might have green color on their logo, that doesn’t make them eco-friendly!
6. Question percentage claims, such as “This product contains 50% more recycled content.” Fifty percent more than what?
With COVID-19, online sales have soared. Is it good news for sustainable shopping?
Well, there is no easy answer! From one side, the internet allows us to do more background research on brands before purchasing. If we see an ad for a product that claims to be sustainable, it’s easy to go online and read more about the company, the values, the materials used, where it’s shipped from, etc. When you are physically in a shop, it’s not always easy to challenge what you see on a packaging.
Shopping sustainably online can also be easier thanks to all the bloggers that are doing an amazing job of compiling their favorite sustainable brands, writing product reviews, and so if you have time and energy, you can spend hours reading reviews until you find the perfect brand for you, at a minimal cost for the planet. 😉
The internet has also created new services that are better for the planet. For instance, toy rental services for kids, clothing rental services, second-hand shopping platforms, all these are great examples of the growth of internet services that will allow us to produce less stuff, and reuse more!
On the other side, the pandemic has seen the boom of big players like Amazon, who are having an almost monopoly of online shopping. People can buy literally anything on Amazon, and get it delivered the next day. And guess what? You can find anything in there, including some products that are eco-friendly and will help fight plastic waste for instance, but you can also find a lot of cheap plastic crap!
The problem with Amazon is that they push you to buy, so you go there to buy something specific that you actually need, and end up buying three other small stuff, that you don’t really need. When you do the math, you end up with:
- More packaging waste
- Transport footprint (many cheap products come from China) + delivered at your door
- Just a bunch of stuff you didn’t really need and that will eventually break and generate more waste
Is there a single place where I can find sustainable products from brands that I can trust?
Today, there is no such thing as a “green Amazon”. But the good news is that we are working on it! Everything started when we were looking for a single place where we could find all the eco-friendly brands that we can trust. We didn’t find such a place, so at Easy Eco Tips, we created our eco-brand directory.
People always ask us if we have brand recommendations, and so we decided to start testing, trying brands, and recommending them if we thought they were genuinely having a positive impact on the planet.
How does the eco-brand directory work?
Very simple! It’s just a catalog of sustainable brands, that we classified by type of product to make the search easier. You can find eco-brands for phone cases, for clothing, for cleaning products, anything you need! It’s not an online shop, we don’t sell the products ourselves. Just a catalog with a link to every brand’s page.
For every brand, we answer the following questions, and give a rating:
- By using this product, do you actually have a better impact on the planet?
- Is the production using renewable energy?
- Do they use recycled or repurposed materials to reduce waste?
- Is the brand’s purpose to help the planet?
- Do they promote good and fair working conditions?
Sometimes, we even negotiate a special discount directly with the brand just for you!
How many brands are there?
We have approx. 50 brands, and 12 product categories. Each week, we add new brands, and the directory is growing fast. But we don’t want to rush it! Because for every brand we discover, we take the time to test the products ourselves, and to make some research about the company, because sustainability is not just about selling bamboo toothbrushes. It’s about culture, values, working environment, materials, products and packaging. So we try to have a feeling about who is behind each brand, and we try our best to select only the ones we think will have an overall positive impact on the planet.
Where can I find the eco-brand directory?
That’s easy! Visit our website www.easyecotips.com and get shopping (sustainably of course!)