With the new greenwashing legislation happening in the United States and Europe, and the growing number of consumer watch dog groups out there, it’s becoming risky business to say almost anything on your package, but most under fire it seems are the “eco-friendly” and “natural” claims.
Ben & Jerry’s removed the word “natural” from their products because a consumer health advocacy group cited some processed ingredients in their products. BMW made a claim of low emissions and stood by it, but have dealt with the controversy around it because they are only low emissions when compared with other luxury vehicles. They have high emissions when compared to the rest of the auto industry. And consumers continue to watch and pounce at even a whiff of foul play regarding claims. The vegans are even out for blood (obviously not from animals but from corporations). Ecover, the ecological maker of laundry detergent, lost their Vegan rating because an animal rights group in the UK busted them for testing on fleas. Fleas? Really?
Even the smallest false claim, or what corporations consider the tiniest of white lies, can have an enormous impact. The outcome is a cynical public. Where no one believes anything, anymore.
There’s a greenwashing (and now, apparently, even a veganwashing) backlash. All the “good” companies, the ones who have been doing everything possible to be the most eco-conscious, socially responsible and transparent, are now afraid to say what they’re actually doing that’s good on their products or in their advertising for fear of getting it wrong.
So we’ve gone from greenwashing to our newest term, “greenhushing”.
For all the money a company stands to make by earning the right to make a truthful claim on their product or in their ad campaign, there’s far more a company stands to lose and that we all stand to lose when they lie, even just a little.