How To Tell the Difference Between Greenwashing and Truly Green Products

How To Tell the Difference Between Greenwashing and Truly Green Products

With the rise in demand for responsible products comes the rise in false green advertising, better known as greenwashing. Greenwashing is a marketing strategy that uses unsubstantiated sustainability claims to dupe customers into believing the products they are purchasing are more environmentally friendly than they actually are.

This is everywhere. Food, cleaning products, and you guessed it, diapers are all common products that are pushed with wild claims in their advertising. While this unfortunate marketing ploy used for a lot of products we consume, we wanted to focus on the diaper industry in particular.

This article will dive into what greenwashing looks like, how to spot it, and how to find a truly environmentally responsible product.

Greenwashing Examples
Below are common marketing strategies used by mainstream diaper companies.

1. Illegitimate Claims
Being a large and environmentally responsible company is difficult. What is required to meet the standards of environmental responsibility is a lot more than what companies are willing to commit to. This is what often leads to illegitimate claims.

For instance, a company will heavily market the fact that their product is organic. They then use this to push their items as environmentally responsible, which couldn't be further from the truth. Being organic is a small step in the right direction.

Companies also need to look at: Is everything in the product organic? How much greenhouse gas emissions does your company contribute? What does your manufacturing process look like? Where do you source your ingredients? Is this done responsibly? How do you ship your goods? How does your product function as waste? Is it biodegradable? What is your packaging made of?

The above is crucial in determining whether or not a product is responsible. So when a company claims that just one or two of its ingredients being organic minimizes its impact on the environment, it is making an illegitimate claim.

2. Differentiating Similar Products
Within their own product line, companies will work hard to make one of their products look more environmentally responsible than the other. Even if the products are made in the same factory, with virtually all the same ingredients, they will emphasize perhaps one or two small changes they made that lean towards responsibility.

The overall impact of the product is the same as the "less responsible" option, but it is marketed differently. Companies are adopting this tactic more and more as the demand for green buying choices rises. They still want to stay relevant, but don't want to disrupt their manufacturing process.

A subtle, but all-so-common differentiator is the use of the word "natural". A company may choose to use "all-natural" in the product description to make one of their items stand out. Natural is a vague umbrella term that has nothing to do with sustainability but evokes a sense of being environmentally responsible. When you see the word "natural", look carefully at the product.

3. Overuse of Natural Imagery
The use of leaves, flowers, animals, and similar natural imagery on products that aren't at all responsible is a classic form of greenwashing. Sometimes, this will accompany a name that also hints at being friends with the natural world.

Truly environmentally kind products will stick to simple designs with simple packaging, as this means less energy is involved in the production process.

The use of greenwashing in marketing imagery can sometimes be subtle. A company may choose to use green as a new brand or logo color, for instance, but change nothing else. This small difference is enough to make a lot of people think their purchase is cleaner.

Changing product imagery and logo colors, called rebranding, is something a company does continuously throughout its lifespan. It is common nowadays, to see that rebranding done with either overt or subtle natural imagery. A sudden switch in product presentation like this further convinces customers that the product itself might have changed when it really hasn't.

What to Look Out For
While the above are just three common greenwashing examples in the diapering industry, there are countless ways your favorite products might be duping you into believing they are responsible.

There are things you can look out for that will help you spot classic greenwashing, however. To verify if something is as environmentally responsible as it claims, always check the product label or the company's certification label.

Product labels, much like marketing imagery, are greener when they are simple. The less clutter, the better for the environment. This isn't a universal truth, but it is a good tool to use if you want to quickly verify a product's environmental viability. There are helpful guides you can download to start familiarizing yourself with ingredients you should look out for. The more you know, and the more you practice, the easier it is to spot a truly responsible product just by checking its ingredients.

Certification labels are labels a company earns by meeting certain safety and environmental testing standards. Have a look at some of the most effective and reliable environmentally responsible labels. Many of these certify if a product is recyclable, non-GMO, biodegradable, and more. They act as independent verifications of a company's sustainability claims. In other words, keep an eye out for these.

How DYPER Avoids Greenwashing
DYPER has made sure to provide the most kind experience possible through stringent label certification, an expanding composting service (REDYPER™ ), carbon offsets, and thorough research. We have done our best to provide the most environmentally responsible experience possible through product label honesty and transparency.

In addition to the SCS, ISO 14855-1-2012 certification of our diapers, DYPER also meets Standard 100 by OEKO TEX, a renowned independent Swiss certification label that verifies product safety through the use of non-toxic ingredients.

All of our product labels are clearly listed on our website, and the label is short and simple.

We avoid the above greenwashing examples by sticking to simple, clean designs for our logo and product packaging. We are also careful when making claims about our environmental impact, and back up everything we claim.

Last but not least, because we recognize that our product is not 100% sustainable, we manage a carbon offsets program to help balance our greenhouse gas emissions. For every diaper delivery, we invest in an ongoing reforestation project in the Alto Mayo forest.

Product Labels are Key
Greenwashing is unfortunately everywhere. It is more expensive to source and produce goods in a responsible manner than it is to invest in a new marketing campaign. Once you know what to look out for, however, it becomes incredibly easy to spot greenwashing right away.

All in all, product labels are going to be your best friend. Look for verified certification labels as well as the ingredients list.

Keep an eye out for overused natural imagery, don't fall for an environmentally friendly rebrand, and double-check all product claims before purchasing. This is particularly true for the word "natural" in product descriptions.

In light of all the greenwashing examples in the diapering industry, we are proud of what we do here at DYPER. We do our best to minimize our impact so our babies grow up in a world still full of nature's beauty.