By Steven Li
Eco-Friendly. Zero Waste. Green. The American public is constantly bombarded with these statements. On products, advertisements, and broadcasted on business titles, it is seemingly unavoidable. However, in reality, 95% of consumer products that claim to be green are actually greenwashing, capitalizing on the green image to benefit their products, their perception, and their growth (Roos, Products Mislead Buyers with ‘Green’ Claims, 2010). Under the pressure of societal movements highlighting the detrimental effects of industry on the planet, businesses have appealed to the public eye through a new type of green: greenwashing.
Greenwashing as a marketing tactic has been prevalent for decades, adapting to the consumer perspective. These movements highlighted industries’ impact on the environment. From global warming to ocean pollution, more environmental issues have gathered the attention of the public–and businesses. Thus the term “eco-friendly” came about, where consumers pay extra green bills (dollars) under the false assumption that a difference is being made.
Look at the water bottle industry: Nestlé, Ice Mountain, Aquafina–all carry major contributors into the 8 million tons of plastic dumped into the oceans annually (Plastic Oceans, The Facts, 2018). However, the branding of these plastic bottles says otherwise, covered in scenic mountain pictures that seem “green”. The public is continuously presented with these marketing claims, often overlooking the promises of corporations. Kathryn Kellogg, a zero-waster, has also been a victim of these false promises stating, “As a person who attempts to be aware of the environment, it is a devastating feeling being falsely led into paying for something you think will be helping the environment, but is instead harming it.”
This is where education comes into place. In order for one to change this problem, one must be aware the problem exists and more and more youth are showing promise in making a change. In a statement from Cristian Carpio, the co-founder of HOLANI, a bottle brand targeting single-use water bottles, he discusses how “The youth are the up and rising. That’s why HOLANI was founded, as a high-school startup not only highlighting issues of single-use plastics, but also to reveal that change really is possible - through awareness and exposure.” To acknowledge deceptive marketing practices, to bring environmentalism into the conversation, or to simply be aware of one’s waste are just of a few examples where the world can slowly reduce its environmental damage, hopefully beginning the planet’s road to recovery.
On the Money Intern Steven Li, center, (also of HOLANI) and On the Money volunteers and interns with their new water bottle.