Guide Against Greenwashing

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Greenwashers talk loudly about sustainability without contributing to a better world.

Responsible companies work hard to create shared values for themselves and society.

Guide Against Greenwashing

10 principles

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Businesses taking sustainability efforts seriously, start by working on their own footprint.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Check whether your text has a high risk of greenwashing with our analysis tool (prototype). We check the text against criteria 1, 4, 8 and 10 in the Guide Against Greenwashing, and also provide you with tips to improve your text.

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