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8 caring brands are accused of ‘greenwashing’ in 2020

This year’s pandemic moved companies to wake bandwagon. Eco-Business highlights on the environmental or social issues. In businesses advertising, good intentions are being priority now. As one of the authors of the Guide Against Greenwashing pointed out in November, products and services marked with sustainable are easier to sell. So, they are claiming things as “green”, “sustainable”, “eco”, “diverse” or “fair” to show the world how much they care about people and planet.

8-brands-accused-greenwashing-2020
Greenwashing is when companies mislead consumers by claiming that their products are safe, non-toxic, eco-friendly, and natural, when in reality they are not. Courtesy: Collected

Greenwashing is when companies mislead consumers by claiming that their products are safe, non-toxic, eco-friendly, and natural, when in reality they are not.

Though corporate hubris has ruined lives, brought the global economy to its knees and revealed the vulnerability of humankind.

At first in history, in this year Italian oil major Eni was fined €5 million (US$5.94 million) for claiming that its palm oil-based diesel saves fuel and reduces air pollution ‘green’ in an advertisement. The European Union is to phase out palm oil-based biodiesel by 2030, citing the crop’s links to deforestation.

Singapore’s Energy Market Authority used children to talk about its main source of power: natural gas. “We need electricity to power many things. Lights, air-con, even the fridge so I can eat my favourite ice-cream!” said one of the children. “And to produce electricity, we use natural gas. Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel around. It gives out less carbon dioxide than coal,” said another.

Industry watchers were not impressed as natural gas is just as dirty as coal. Whether it’s a “Highly Explosive Climate-Change-Accelerating Fossil Fuel,” he said.

Shell launched a debate about the energy transition. But Shell had known about the dangers of fossil fuels emissions since the early 1990s. They are showing the suggestion that individual choices – not systems – are a main driver of climate change.

SC Johnson’s Windex Vinegar Ocean Plastic bottle claims to be the world’s first window-cleaner bottle made from 100 percent recycled ocean plastic but it was sourced from plastic bank because the sun and salt degrades plastic, and thus it is not usable for recycling. It is also not possible to pull bottles out of the water.

Windex also uses the version “non-toxic”, where their products contain ingredients that are harmful to people, animals and the environment.

IKEA announced a recycling initiative in October that it would buy used furniture for up to half of the purchase price, to resell it.  An opinion in Euronews showed the company had made misleading green claims in the past after just 17 years of use.

Apple, Starbucks, Walmart, Microsoft and Facebook were joined in the Black Lives Matter movement after the killing of African American George Floyd in May. Johnson & Johnson launched a multi-racial range of Band-Aids suitable not only for white skin which has been criticised over the years for making a product for light skin colours. J&J launched a range of bandages for multiple skin tones in 2005, but discontinued the line “due to lack of interest”.

After declaring Covid-19 a pandemic by he World Health Organisation, the head of communications for tobacco firm Philip Morris found how the coronavirus was bringing a divided society back together.

The idea of “pop-up generosity” is popular now where people can help each other and make the world a better place.

Yoga instructors doing their classes online for free, but one reader wrote: “This is crisis-washing. Nobody should be hearing from a company that spent more than a century infecting the world’s lungs.”

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