What is greenhushing? How to spot the sophisticated greenwashing tactics being used in 2023

by Lindsey Francy Jan 29, 2023 News
What is greenhushing? How to spot the sophisticated greenwashing tactics being used in 2023
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Greenhushing is a sophisticated form of greenwashing that's easy to overlook.

Greenhushing is a sophisticated form of greenwashing that's easy to overlook.   -   Copyright  Canva

Greenwashing is when companies make false claims about their environmental credentials.

The practice is getting more sophisticated.

Corporations have been called out for making false claims about their impact on the environment.

Marketing companies are looking for new ways to get their message across.

New strategies need new vocabulary to be called out.

A non-profit financial think tank has identified six different types of greenwashing. There are examples of what they are and how to spot them.

6. What is greencrowding?

Greencrowding is when you hide in a group and move at a slower pace than the other people in the group.

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste is offered by Planet tracker. The global alliance was formed to end plastic waste in the environment and protect the planet, according to their website.

All is not as it appears.

Big Oil giants like ExxonMobil and Shell are among the members. Eight of the top 20 single-use plastic waste makers are in the same group.

The majority of members are in the American Chemistry Council which lobbies to weaken the UN treaty on plastic pollution.

The issue of plastic recycling and recovery is more important than the issue at hand. Only a small percentage of plastic is recycled. Despite the global plastic pollution problem, the recycling targets are not very high.

The average member contribution fell by 56 per cent in the first three years of the alliance's existence.

5. What is greenlighting?

When a company spotlights a particular green feature, it's called greenlighting. This tactic is meant to draw attention away from harmful activities being done in other areas.

In the car industry, it's common for manufacturers tout the merits of their electric vehicles, which are often a small part of their production.

Out of the top 10 car manufacturers, Toyota has the lowest proportion of zero emissions vehicles. The company is ranked as the 10th most negative and influential corporation in the world.

The company is promoting a campaign called 'Beyond Zero'.

Zero emissions is not Toyota's goal. It is another step in our journey to overcome barriers and build a better future for all.

Greenlighting tactics are being scrutinized by TotalEnergies as well. The oil major's public advertising of its climate-friendly investments is misleading as they are dwarfed by the amount it invests in oil and gas.

4. What is greenshifting?

Planet tracker says that green shifting is when companies imply that the consumer is at fault and shift the blame to them.

The campaign is called "know your carbon footprint"

Customers were invited to share their pledges to reduce emissions with the oil giant. The first thing to do to reduce emissions is to know where you are.

In the same year, the company spent millions on an advertising campaign. According to ClientEarth, more than 98% of its annual expenditure was still on oil and gas at the time.

Fossil fuel emissions are the main cause of global warming. The vast majority of global CO2 emissions came from fossil fuels.

Despite being aware of the dangers of climate change, fossil fuel companies have shown secret resistance.

3. What is greenlabelling?

Greenlabeling is a practice where marketers call something green or sustainable, but closer examination shows this to be false.

Green packaging can cause consumers to infer their eco credentials. Unsubstantiated claims are made on labels or in advertisements.

Last year, an advert for Persil was banned for doing this.

The brand has a campaign called "Kinder to our planet". The voiceover says that for real change to happen, we need to roll up our sleeves and get dirty.

The brand's own green claims came under scrutiny. The ad concludes, "We only have one planet." Change is needed for good.

The brand failed to substantiate its claims that the new product was more sustainable than its last, according to the UK advertising standards authority.

2. What is greenrinsing?

Greenrinsing is when a company changes its targets before they are accomplished. ESG is a set of standards that measure a business's impact on society, the environment, and its transparency and accountability.

It raises suspicion as to whether companies are trying to reach them or just using them as a marketing ploy when they miss, reduce or delay these environmental targets.

One of the world's top plastic producers is an example. Coca-Cola has missed and moved its recycling targets.

The company dropped its goal for using recycled packaging materials from 50 percent to 25 percent.

There are 47 risks identified in Coca-Cola's latest report that could lead to the un-fulfillment of the targets.

What did the result look like? The world's biggest plastic polluter has very low recycling targets.

1. What is greenhushing?

Greenhushing is when an organisation hides their credentials from the public.

It is possible for greenhushing firms to hide under the guise of being quiet conscientious. They might be giving the impression that they are more green than they are.

In the last few months, Blackrock and HSBC have been accused of this. A number of funds that are exclusively invested in sustainable assets have been upgraded to an article 8 category.

According to HSBC, this would not change the objectives or policies of the funds. It could have been taken to avoid investor scrutiny.

There are reasons why companies may underreport their credentials. Pressure on resources for smaller companies is caused by a fear of being asked for more data.

Companies may want to test their green credentials over a longer period before making a statement. They can be shielded from scrutiny.

What’s being done to prevent greenwashing tactics?

The issue of greenwashing is beginning to be confronted by regulators and governments.

The labelling of sustainable investment funds is one of the things the UK is going to regulate.

Under the European Green Deal, companies are not allowed to make vague, generic and unsubstantiated environmental claims.

The director of research at Planet Tracker says that addressing the problem will require those bodies to lead the charge against greenwashing.

Consumers are taking companies to court for deceptive practices.

Brandalism is an anti-advertising movement that has taken its protests to the streets.

How can you avoid falling for greenwashing?

There are a variety of ways to avoid deception.

Only products that have proven their climate-friendly credentials can be used on trusted eco labels. The Blue Angel in Germany, the Nordic Swan Ecolabel in Nordic countries and the Austrian Ecolabel are examples of similar national and regional labels.

Shopping local can make you less likely to fall for corporate greenwashing schemes.

Kenyan teacher Paul Waweru has found a novel use for old laptop batteries.

Kenyan teacher Paul Waweru has found a novel use for old laptop batteries.   -   Copyright  AP

One day, your old laptop battery could be used to power an electric bike.

Paul Waweru wasn't able to travel to work when his motorbike stopped working.

The amateur inventor was able to come up with a solution.

He says that he had to import an electric bike because nobody was selling them in his country.

The batteries no longer worked after a few months because of the technology. I was not allowed to move.

I was able to source low-cost batteries thanks to my innovation.

How do the bikes work with laptops?

Waweru buys the old laptop batteries from the vendors in the city.

He divides the working cells from the not working ones at his workshop to create a battery that can be recycled.

The teacher takes frames from old bikes and replaces them with a battery and motor. There is a direct current.

When using a fast charger, the batteries can be charged in 45 minutes or less. The battery can travel up to 100 kilometres.

The Ecomobilus bike is cheap and easy to maintain, according to Waweru.

He says that the charging is more affordable than the fueling.

For a full charge, we are saying we are using less than $3 and for the same for the bike taxis, they end up spending more than $7.

Electric bikes are saving Kenyan delivery drivers money

A company called Ecomobilus was founded by Waweru.

Delivery drivers are using them around the city They say they are saving money because of the switch to electric bikes.

I don't use fuel anymore because of the electric one's efficiency. John is good for the rest of the day because he only consumes 200 ksh on electricity charges.

He has been using the bike for a long time.

Are electric bikes better for the planet than motorbikes?

Half of global fuel-related greenhouse gas emissions come from private vehicles, with the transport sector accounting for 25%.

Electric vehicles help reduce pollution by reducing emissions from fossil-fuel run cars.

Dennis Wakaba is an electric mobility specialist.

The manufacturing, assembly and shipping of new batteries can be saved with the electric bike. He says that you're saving a lot of emissions.

The availability of electric bikes is increased by using recycled batteries to convert motorcycles. Through tailpipe emissions from internal combustion engines, we will be able to reduce air pollution.

They help the environment and are an option for residents who need to get around.

The teacher turned old laptops into e- bike batteries.