Student’s Corner

On Greenwashing 

With newer generations have placed sustainability as a make or break factor when choosing a product, occupation, and even universities—under a capitalistic system, many institutions have started to adopt sustainability jargon (known as greenwashing) which lures consumers into thinking they are helping the environment. 

The term greenwashing was first coined in a 1986 essay by Jay Westerveld after noticing a notice in his hotel on towels being reusable to help the environment. The term since has been used to describe how companies will label any product or attribute as “green” or “sustainable” than they really are. Examples of companies using greenwashing in the past have been: Oatly stating their company emits 73% less CO2 in comparison to dairy milk, when the statistic is not accurate; IKEA cut the usage of single-use plastics and obtains certified wood by the FSA, however the supply chain for wood is poorly regulated to account for illegal logging; and fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M releasing sustainable collections when their clothing makes up a good majority of textile waste annually. Thus a good majority of “sustainable” and “green” companies are just tricking its consumers into buying their products since to be sustainable is a loosely regulated label. 

So how can we weed out these fake companies? How can we purchase from truly sustainable brands? The solution has already been made: buy from B-Corp certified companies. The B-Corp certificate is, in short, a certificate given to companies who have met the highest standards of true sustainability, accountability, and transparency. Examples of certified B-Corp companies include: Jenni’s Ice Cream, Patagonia, and Cariuma. These companies have put the effort and resources needed to truly be sustainable. 

It has been a pleasure writing these Student’s Corner for y’all for the past semester and a half. This is my last one. Have a great summer and remember that we have the power to make a difference on campus!

Written by Lugardo Marroquin ‘24

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