The secrets of Greenwashing - How this practice affects the world today.

"Reduce, Reuse and Recycle" are commonly known as the three Rs of sustainability. Nowadays, the concept of environmental sustainability cannot be considered a novelty; the importance devoted to the area is evident from the earliest years of elementary school and accompanies most of the population during any schooling or academic path undertaken. Nevertheless, to minimize this shrewdness to a mere concern present exclusively during an individual's educational period is reductive. 

A minimal care for planet Earth should be a fundamental thought in the lives of anyone, environmentalist or not. In order to push large entities to pay attention to the sphere, therefore, the United Nations (UN) is enacting changes. By 2025, legislation will come out aimed at making industries more aware of the sphere being considered: companies will be forced to make public the energy balance resulting from their work year, those with greater energy efficiency will get higher ratings, consequently having more valuable facilities. This proposal has the title "ESG" because its assessment is based on three main criteria: environmental, social and governance. These analyze a company's commitment according to three dimensions that provide a measure of how sustainable and responsible it is. As a result, the ESG coefficient also profoundly influences potential investments, as this approach recommends considering the issues mentioned when deciding which companies to invest in. In essence, the main idea behind ESG is to use the power of investable funds to support companies or corporations that an investor believes are operating in an ethical, socially responsible, and sustainable manner.

Back to us. Using generally environmentally impactful technologies and, most importantly, having the well-being of the planet at heart, it is our concern to stay ahead of the curve in terms of developing methodologies to protect the environment. The overview we propose in this article starts from the mentioned assumption and originates from the need to cope with the phenomenon of "greenwashing," which increasingly characterizes the advertising campaigns of large industries. Known in Italian as "ecologismo di facciata" or "façade environmentalism," greenwashing is basically a communication strategy used by companies, organizations and political institutions, with the aim of building a falsely positive self-image from the point of view of ecological sustainability. 

Literally "green washing," this practice originated shortly after the middle of the last century when the hydrocarbon, tobacco, and chemical industries wanted to mask the damage caused to the environment by their activities. The goal was to distract the public from the negative environmental effects of their activities and products. Some industries even went so far as to deny the harmfulness of tobacco, claiming that it was not a carcinogenic product, in order to appear more environmentally and ethically responsible. Why change production methods and thus spend money to invest in change when you can just lie? 

The phenomenon did not stop there; in the 1970s the practice spread further and sent large companies so concerned about their image into raptures, they were then induced to artificially give themselves a "greener" appearance. A high number of companies dedicated to the energy sector took part in the change, being, moreover, part of the sphere considered among the worst in terms of environmental sustainability. The push of this decade came to be called "greenwashing"; rather than investing their time and resources in devising a new methodology for dealing with the problem and thus minimizing their environmental impact, they preferred to invest in advertising themselves as environmentally friendly

However, the term "greenwashing" was first used only in 1986, to urge hotel guests to reduce their consumption of towels so that they could do their own to save the environment. In reality, it was only to make the costs for laundry services decrease and weigh less on the finances of the hotels in question. The situation, nowadays, has spread like wildfire and now touches realities present in any nation, and belonging to any sphere. The synonyms and uses of the term are countless, each with slight differences in meaning to better explain the situation of the case. For example, the term "green sheen" also came to be, intended to further emphasize the aspect of natural beauty that should characterize the organization using it; but which, punctually, lies.

In essence, greenwashing is now a prominent marketing frontier. Just as companies suddenly go rainbow in celebration of June (for Pride Month) but discriminate against employees from the LGBT community, companies are donning the guise of environmentalists in order to gain consumer trust and capitalize on the growing demand for green products, while their own activities harm the planet more and more every day. 

Generally, a consumer is more likely to pay for an environmentally sustainable product, hoping that their choice will make some small difference in protecting the environment; but how does one know if something is truly "green"? 

The answer always lies in informing oneself. Getting informed, investigating and paying attention to statements and strategic moves of companies, businesses and institutions; it is the best course of action to be able to make informed choices. Generally, truly green products or companies back up their claims with facts and details, are not afraid to show what lies behind their production processes and reveal the properties of their financial developments in the field. 

Fortunately, to the even slightly trained eye greenwashing becomes immediately recognizable. Organizations that tend not to demonstrate their work processes, to be particularly vague, and to use buzzwords without providing examples and evidence, usually do not have a great history of economic sustainability. 

For example, there is a lot of talk these days about CO2 emissions as a consequence of industrial activity (to produce energy, industries resort to burning fossil fuels, thus producing carbon dioxide) and how many organizations are working to implement an offset the latter ("carbon offsetting"). To be honest, carbon offset projects overestimate the amount of carbon they save. Carbon removal and so-called "nature-based solutions" are the height of greenwashing.

What is Rights Chain's position in the face of such a sensitive topic? The company has always acted with the possible environmental impact behind every choice it makes in mind: whether it is for a trip or a technology to be implemented. We strive to ensure that our actions do not further harm the earth on which we live, and we invite readers to do their part.

About the Author



Columnist, (He/Them)

Content Creator for cosplay, gaming and animation. With a degree in foreign languages and a great passion for Oriental culture, he writes about copyright to protect the work of artists and young minds. A cosplayer since 2015, Yako is an advocate of gender identity and the development of one's creativity through personal attitudes: be it role-playing, cosplay or writing.