Combatting greenwashing in the retail industry

Could your company be guilty of ‘greenwashing’?

If you’re not familiar with the term, greenwashing refers to tactics used by businesses to give the impression that they are working in an environmentally friendly way, when there’s no evidence to back up these claims.

We all know that the global retail industry is one of the biggest polluters on the planet, particularly in terms of its carbon footprint and the sheer volume of products that end up in landfill. To feel like they’re doing their bit to combat wastage and reduce emissions, responsible customers are understandably trying to choose eco-conscious brands over those who don’t have a particularly sustainable approach.

The problem is, companies with little to no green credentials are trying to make it appear as though they care about what they’re producing and where it’s ending up, because they want to continue to retain their market share at all costs.  

In a bid to protect their reputations and be seen to be doing ‘something’, one strategy often used by greenwashers is to focus on fairly small initiatives instead of tackling the bigger issues. For example, a manufacturer might tell you that it recycles its waste in-house, when in fact it uses non-sustainable materials in all its packaging, so it’s just perpetuating the problem!

The Guardian recently called out three major fast fashion retailers for trying to mislead customers by making vague eco claims that don’t have any substance. These businesses will now have to file regular reports to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which has made it very clear that greenwashing activities will be monitored, and false claims will be addressed. The UK government has even floated the idea of imposing fines on companies that breach consumer regulations in this way.

The bottom line is, if you’re claiming that you’re taking a more sustainable route to market than you actually are, you run the risk of turning off your customers, damaging your brand for good, and, like the article says, potentially being charged up to 10% of your turnover for being dishonest!

To remain a cut above your competitors AND become a genuinely greener company, you need to take real action – and this will usually involve ensuring your products and packaging come from responsible sources and can be recycled or reused once they have served their original purpose.

What we’re doing to help our customers make legitimate sustainable packaging choices

Like most reputable businesses, at Hallmark Labels, we’ve gone above and beyond to ensure none of our clients and peers could ever accuse us of greenwashing.

We’re helping manufacturers and retailers make better choices thanks in part to our status as an FSC certificate holder, which means all our paper-based products – including our paper mailing bags and printed cardboard mailing boxes – come from responsibly managed forests. 

We have made sure that as many of our products as possible are recyclable and/or reusable. From biodegradable mailers to eco-friendly Kraft packages, we offer a series of alternatives that make it easier for our customers to operate in a more sustainable manner.

Plus, we consistently post tips and advice for businesses that want to reduce their environmental impact, including this blog with plenty of guilt-free packaging ideas for sustainable brands.

We’ve even signed up with the climate action initiative Ecologi, and we make sure trees are planted for every customer who places an order with us.

We’re committed to positive change. And you should be, too. Don’t fall into the greenwashing trap. Make sure you continue to introduce a range of genuine eco-friendly methods and initiatives into your business, and always be transparent about how you’re working towards new goals. Customers don’t expect you to be perfect, but they do want proof that you’re doing your bit for the environment and are serious about building the cleaner, greener retail industry of the future!

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