Greenwashing and Transparency

Greenwashing is basically an unsubstantiated claim by a company to deceive consumers into believing that their products are environmentally friendly. Although a product may be promoted as environmentally friendly it doesn’t mean that ALL the products in their ranges are environmentally friendly and that is the crucial point.

There is a danger that the accusation of greenwashing will stop companies from moving in the right direction, so for us, it’s all about transparency.

If there is transparency of the materials used, the manufacturing process, the welfare of the employees, the social initiatives and good causes; the consumer, who is far from stupid, can make up their own mind as to whether any greenwashing is taking place.

On the Ateliers Verts platform there are several companies whose sustainability statements are laudable, but quite frankly very vague. The companies do however have some products that are making steps in the right direction. For example, the lining of a handbag made from recycled nylon is better than using a liner made from freshly made nylon. Our rating system takes this into account.

We were approached by a company which made watches. The watches were marketed as high-end but were pretty average. The watches were sold with straps that were made from animal-free materials i.e. leather- free. Their claim was that they were a Vegan watch brand. Whilst no animal products were included in their watch manufacture, their products or manufacturing process did nothing to suggest they were doing any environmental or social good. Needless to say, Ateliers Verts won’t be selling their watches on the platform because although technically the watches are Vegan they are not Vegan in spirit – In our opinion they were Vegan Washing!

So, we would encourage companies to become as transparent as possible in all their processes which in turn will build consumer confidence leading to increased sales.

Companies can also get accreditation for this transparency. Certified B Corporation businesses for example are measured by their “standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose”.

We would also encourage those who aren’t yet transparent to make moves in the right direction by looking at recycled materials, upcycling, environmentally friendly sourcing and distribution, fair-trade initiatives and  supporting good causes. One day we hope this will be the norm and there will be no need for Greenwashing or Vegan Washing! #MinimiseOurHumanFootprint

©Ateliers Verts Ltd. March 2020

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