Green vs. Greenwashing
What does “greenwashing” mean and how does it compare to “green” services and companies
Companies often market themselves as “green” and “sustainable”. We ought to know, we’re one of them.
However, there is a massive difference between companies that aim to actually make a difference and those that simply market themselves as such.
That’s why, in this article, we’re going to cover the differences and hopefully make it easier for you to make an educated decision on which companies to work with in the future.
Actual sustainability vs. vagueness
You’ve probably heard or seen the recyclable plastic soundbites or logos, the use of reusable materials, sustainable solutions, etc.
Unfortunately, due to the push by the public as well as governments for more actually sustainable solutions, some companies are jumping at the opportunity to utilize the new buzzwords without working on implementing significant changes.
This is called greenwashing. Instead of implementing significant changes, some parties rebrand or simply remarket themselves as green and sustainable. In fact, in 42% of cases, websites that promote “green” practices were either exaggerated or outright deceptive.
For example, Nordstrom, Bed Bath & Beyond, JCPenny, and Backcountry.com (not to be confused with Backcountry Recreation) agreed to pay 1.3 million dollars in fines for mislabeling fabric made of rayon as made of bamboo. Bamboo is the base material for creating rayon. However, it is treated with toxic chemicals that turn it into a silky fabric these companies sold.
Other examples include plastic bags labeled as recyclable, while they are in reality not either due to being a specific type of plastic that cannot be processed at nearby facilities (or at all, due to capacity issues) or due to simply being filled with trash like trash bags tend to be.
One of the major issues is that the terms used by companies that greenwash are not well-defined or regulated. Terms such as green or eco-friendly are vague and often meaningless.
This allows large companies to use these terms as they please while not having to change their core operations. While switching focus from their responsibilities to the individual’s carbon footprint, they assert the idea that we can avoid climate change by buying their product.
Another example of switching focus is listing what is not included or listing one healthy or “good” ingredient that is included in consumer goods. This can often be a tactic to distract you from other ingredients that are included in the product.
Along with that, these companies establish a false sense of security by making us think that they have everything under control. For example, Enron did this with their “People do” campaigns in the 80s and 90s.
That is why Freightera strives for transparency and honesty when it comes to these issues. When you get a quote through our system, you can see how much of an impact you make on a particular shipment compared to the industry standard.
Don’t get us wrong, the freight industry is a major contributor to pollution and the industry-wide changes are slow. However, if you pay attention to our emissions badge next to the price you receive for your shipment, you can decide which carrier has the best price-to-emissions ratio for your shipping needs.
Luckily for all of us, most commonly the cheapest options will be the ones with the highest impact on emissions reduction. For example, trains are a much smaller pollutant than trucks, they can haul large amounts of cargo in one trip and they are usually the cheapest option.
These are currently the best options available when it comes to ground freight transportation. When electric vehicles become the norm, you can bet that Freightera will be following suit.
At the moment, we offer the best of what’s available and push for faster change. The way we do this is by partnering with SmartWay, rail carriers, and tracking our carriers’ emissions.
For example, we are working on bringing in new carriers that focus specifically on electric trucks!
In addition to that, greenwashing is technically illegal in Canada. That means that companies can be subject to inspection and fines if they’re found guilty.
Unfortunately, it appears that most of the burden is still on the consumer to research and use the best options available. The least we can do for you is be as transparent as possible and allow you to make informed choices.
We hope that this article helps you differentiate between “green” and “greenwashing” more easily in the future. More than that, we hope that we’ve shown you what we can and can’t do (yet) and that we’ve been transparent enough about how and how much of an impact you can make by using us.
For more information, check out our green freight page where we go into more detail about what exactly we do to make freight shipping greener.
Thank you for reading and happy shipping.