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What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is a very deep topic, if we are going to discuss greenwashing, we need to address issues such as conscience, love and sharing… Let’s start with the definition in Reppatch Dictionary. “Giving the consumer the wrong impression by using misleading, exaggerated claims to create the impression that organizations or companies are sustainable or environmentally friendly. This strategy tries to hide its true environmental impact while aiming to increase sales by misleading the consumer audience.”

First of all, why do organizations and companies try to create the impression of being sustainable or environmentally friendly?

We are currently in the Quaternary glaciation period, which includes land and polar ice caps. These periods are generally known as ice ages. According to cyclical climate change models, the Earth should have entered a period of slight cooling at this time. However, the temperature increase has doubled in the last 50 years compared to the previous half century. In other words, the Earth started to warm up exactly when it should have entered a cooling period. Something was wrong; rapid population growth, livestock farming, rapid consumption and incomprehensible behavior of rapidly increasing population.

The concepts of recycling and upcycling emerged to make sense of people’s incomprehensible behaviors. Organizations talked about sustainability, the United Nations set targets to be achieved by 2030 and companies followed it.

Did they really follow up? This is a question that we, as citizens, can never know the answer to, and as citizens, we do what we need to do and thus throw away our conscientious responsibility. This responsibility we place on companies and organizations does nothing but support their greenwashing efforts. Coming to the answer to our question, organizations and companies; It tries to create the impression of being sustainable and environmentally friendly because humanity is after responsible consumption and they want to hear things that ease their conscience. They want to hear about it, consume it more easily, and throw it away more easily…

In my opinion, the real reason for greenwashing starts from the human being. Since the consumption craze of individuals does not stop, the companies and organizations that continue to feed this craze and make money are the next reason.

First of all, people must be truly conscious; Which plastics can be recycled, what is upcycling, where will I see the transformed waste that I separate and throw away, how do these processes progress, etc. We need to be asking questions and really looking for the answers. The answers may not make us smile or ease our conscience. Avoiding this has created the concept of greenwashing, we need to be aware of it.

What are examples of greenwashing?

In recent months, it has been clearly disclosed that after H&M’s recycling campaign, it sent the old/unworn clothes it collected for recycling to landfills in Africa. Of course, there is greenwashing here, but not being able to explain the process is also a big mistake. Of course, waste that cannot be recycled will go to waste, I don’t know whether it will be in Africa or where. One of the biggest questions that comes to my mind is; So who sorted these clothes collected from all over the world? Perhaps some of them are made of quality fabrics, buttons, zippers, etc. that are suitable for upcycling…

The mistake starts with the big ones, the little ones take the example… This greenwashing trend is getting worse, as you can see.

The thing that broke my heart the most that I experienced in Turkey during my eco-entrepreneurship journey was the little ones who took greenwashing as an example… Who are these little ones? Small brands, small formations and small associations. Entrepreneurship is the power of unity, seeing problems and solving problems. But it is very difficult to measure those who say they do, “I am a sustainable brand.” I recently came across a brand that advertises by saying that it produces wallets with plastic produced from scratch. I sent a message; “Our products are recyclable.” they said, this is what makes them sustainable?! There are those who support women producers; for example, they say they are sustainable. So what is the raw material? What happens after use? What happens to atelier waste?

As you can see, I have many questions, but there is no need to ask some of them; The look, speech and general thoughts of the brand owner easily reveal that its sustainability is a lie. Because real warriors who support sustainability share, explain, set an example and try to help. People who hide their methods, who are reluctant to share their knowledge, and who dream of the days when money is not worth the money, rather than the world returning to its proper order, are liars; It’s greenwashing.

As a result, this is a fiction that continues from big to small, from small to big. It is still up to us to prevent it; Researching, questioning over and over until you really understand, and continuing to learn every day will destroy the organizations that tell these lies and will make a great contribution to the future of our world.

Nil Karul