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  • Aaryan Doshi

The Rise of Greenwashing


The Rise of Greenwashing image: adobe firefly

It's crucial for all of us to recognize that sustainability is a collective responsibility. I'm certain that, like me, you're constantly considering the impact of our actions on the environment. Green thinking and sustainability have become more than just trends; they're now a global movement. Post-pandemic, the majority of global consumers are embracing eco-trendy and eco-friendly practices.


The companies that are selling us know that as well. They know that we are even willing to pay more for sustainable products, as noted in this McKinsey report. In fact, products making ESG claims now account for more than half of all product sales.  



Great! But I start to wonder. Why are our landfills still overflowing? Why do we have five massive plastic patches in larger countries and states like Texas and Florida?


Well, you, the reader at CirFin Times, would know that injecting sustainability into products requires a redesign. It requires identifying materials and considering the end-of-life stages of the product at the design stage itself.


But such a redesign is a costly undertaking. The cost of redesigning all our products is estimated to be a mind-boggling 3.5 trillion dollars. So, while there is an incentive to go green (consumers are willing to pay more), it is neutralized by the higher cost of making green.



But here's the catch-Greenwashing! Greenwashing is a deceptive strategy employed by companies to persuade us to pay more for the same product or service, without actually making any substantial changes to their practices. It's important to be aware of this tactic and not fall for it. 


"Greenwashing" is designed to convince us that we're purchasing or consuming something "greener" than before. It could be a small aspect that's greener or a clause to make us feel it's for a good cause!  The intention is to reassure us that we're making the right decision to buy that product and that we're not harming the environment. But it's crucial for us to critically evaluate these claims and not be swayed by marketing tactics. 


Need an example? Have you ever seen those signs in the hotel asking us to reuse towels? Well, the towels are made exactly like before - no change in fiber and likely to end up in a landfill. But by making us reuse towels, hotels save on laundry costs! Win-win! Or it could be a beautiful ad of a car silently slithering through beautiful, vibrant countryside with soothing music, making us feel a reduction in noise pollution is eco-friendly - never mind the gas-guzzling tank or the tough-to-recycle plastic employed to make the car! 



What can be done to counter this? That is a topic we will dissect in a future blog!



References:


Emmert, A. (2021, July 8). The rise of the eco-friendly consumer. Strategy+Business. https://www.strategy-business.com/article/The-rise-of-the-eco-friendly-consumer



Am, J. B., Doshi, V., Noble, S., & Malik, A. (2023, February 6). Consumers care about sustainability—and back it up with their wallets. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/consumer-packaged-goods/our-insights/consumers-care-about-sustainability-and-back-it-up-with-their-wallets



What’s the price of a green economy? An extra $3.5 trillion a year. (2023, February 28). World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/01/net-zero-cost-3-5-trillion-a-year/

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