Whatever you are shopping for, companies around the world can be divided into ethical and unethical. Especially when it comes to eco-friendly products and services, businesses are doing their best to produce “green” products whether they are actually environmentally conscious or not. When you are buying any product, you are essentially voting with your money. It is important to pay attention and do the research on each individual company and what they are offering. Every business uses promotional marketing and does their best to sell their products, but it should matter who is doing so ethically. This has never been more prevalent than with the phenomenon of greenwashing.

What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is when a company uses promotional material that isn’t accurate to how green or eco-friendly the product is according to MoneyPug, a site typically used to compare energy prices. When the business uses buzzwords like “green” or “environmentally friendly” they are usually inflating how eco-conscious they are. Sometimes these products contain materials that are harmful to the environment. When businesses use these buzzwords, they are probably not following what they say they are doing.

You should check to see what materials they are using. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, they are probably not eco-friendly. When they have a lot of ingredients, it isn’t a good sign. Companies will routinely do this to present their products as more environmentally-friendly than they are. It is important to pay attention to who does this and avoid those particular businesses that are guilty of inflating their environmental outlook and production. When you do your part to spread the word, ethically-produced products will spread and become commonplace.

Ethical Investment

By far one of the most effective ways to encourage people to shop ethically and support the development of ethical companies is to invest in them with your money. When you pay for a product that is ethically produced and environmentally conscious, you are voting for that kind of change in the market.

Supporting with your choices changes the way these companies behave. They may not be supportable before public demand, but many businesses will reform if there is pressure put on them by consumers. Using your money wisely can not only help you get the best product you can find, it will also help you do the right thing in the grand scheme of climate change, environmental degradation, and the future of our planet.

Where to Start

One of the best places to start is by identifying what particular issues you care about and what you can do to support the products that align with your own personal morals. For those who have a solid moral compass, they know what they will and will not support. However you look at it, there is no right or wrong answer. It is all about who and what you feel comfortable supporting. Once you have determined what you’re comfortable with, you have the chance to start doing your research and narrowing down who you will not support. You will be able to determine misclassifications more easily.

Research & Awareness

Conducting enough research to figure out which companies are greenwashing and misleading their customers will provide the awareness you need to be skeptical of others. After you start doing a bit of research, you can share with your friends and family what businesses you have found are ethical and which are not. Spreading the word is helpful, and when the right amount of people support ethical, eco-conscious businesses we can motivate companies to change. Money talks. Spending money on something you feel okay supporting will be what changes the world.

The Future

It isn’t just greenwashing and climate change. Our whole economic system is dependent upon what we choose to give our money to. It goes without saying that, at this point, things need to change. It isn’t just the unethical production of products, but also food and services and other intangibles. Should these people receive your money? Do they deserve it? Are they good people? Will they do good things with the money you are giving them? If the answer to these questions is no, then we should all do better to think about what we can do to make sure that we are saying yes when it comes to what businesses we contribute to and what they are offering to consumers.

Ryan Beitler is a journalist, writer, and blogger. He has written for many publications and website including The Slovenia Times, Paste Magazine, Deadline News, and more.

Investing in Ethical Companies that Avoid Greenwashing

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