Greenwashing occurs when companies make false or exaggerated claims about how environmentally friendly their products are. Think about the old story of the “boy who cried wolf”: Consumers simply don’t believe most of the green claims companies make about their brands. Almost one-fourth of U.S. consumers say they have “no way of knowing” if a product is green or actually does what it claims.
Their skepticism is probably justified: According to one report, more than 95 percent of consumer companies that market as “green” make misleading or inaccurate claims. Another survey found that the number of products that claim to be green has increased by 73 percent since 2009—but of the products investigated, almost one-third had fake labels, and 70 made green claims without offering any proof to back them up.
Talk about poisoning the well: One survey reported that 71 percent of respondents say they will stop buying a product if they feel they’ve been misled about its environmental impact, and 37 percent are so angry about greenwashing that they believe this justifies a complete boycott of everything the company makes.