The Guide Against Greenwashing was made in Norway by a number of organisations including Skift – Climate Business Leaders, Zero, Future in our hands and WWF Norway.
greenwashing is a form of misleading marketing or communication, where a product, service or company is presented as “better” in respect to climate change, the environment or animal and human rights issues, without proper documentation to back this claim.ccording to The Guide Against Greenwashing,
The goal of this ten step guide is to help big and small businesses avoid greenwashing. The recommendations are as follows:
1. Be honest and accountable.
Be careful when using words like green, sustainable, recyclable, eco- and fair, without both explaining and documenting what your company has done or will do to make sure this statement can be verified.
Avoid using pictures of pristine nature, green leaves, windmills or happy workers to come off as more sustainable.
Do not use results from reports without context, to better suit your marketing.
2. Make sure that your company’s sustainability efforts are not limited to your communications and marketing departments.
Companies that continue with business as usual, but employ a marketing strategy focusing on sustainability, will end up as greenwashers in almost every case. Aim for a holistic approach on sustainability.
3. Avoid talking about the importance of sustainability, nature, the climate and ethical trade, if your company has not made serious efforts on these issues yourselves
It is nice to raise the pride flag, mark the International Women’s day, wear a sustainability goals-pin or share #blacklivesmatter, but it will appear hollow if this is the extent of your commitment to sustainability.
4. Do not under-communicate your company’s own emissions and negative impacts on the climate, nature and human lives
It is better to admit being a part of the problem, and focus on what could be done to become better. A good plan and clear goals will be appreciated by the public. Most people cheer for those who do their best.
5. Be careful using a big share of the marketing budget on small measures that do not affect your company’s footprint significantly
If marketing is focused on the five percent of your product range labeled as “sustainable”, but the remaining 95 percent are causing harm to the climate, environment and people producing them, you should have concrete plans of changing that ratio drastically.
6. Avoid buying a clean conscience through climate quotas or by letting others clean up ocean plastic
Businesses taking sustainability efforts seriously, start by working on their own footprint.
7. Use established labelling, or work towards the establishment of good labeling mechanisms in your industry if it is lacking today
Established labelling makes it easier for both people and businesses to make informed choices. Labelling that might wrongly give the impression of a third party-certification is not advised.
8. Be careful using terms such as “better for the climate, nature, and the environment”
Almost all production of goods and services affects the biosphere negatively in some way or another. If there is no concrete documentation of how a product could be deemed as “better”, it should not be marketed as such.
9. “Cherry Picking” from the UN sustainable development goals can lead you astray
The most important sustainability goals are those that have the closest link to the company’s core activities. If the production line emits big amounts of CO2, or cause violations of human rights in another country, you should avoid marketing the work on equality in your home country.
10. Donations and sponsorships are great, but not a proof that you are working on sustainability-issues
Again, focus on the company’s core activities, rather than listing donations to a respected organization as the company’s effort for change. Products and services provided must change according to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the goals listed in the Paris agreement.