Is it all just greenwashing? Marc Warde discusses the importance of keeping it real…/strong>
Have you heard of the term’greenwashing’? Until fairly recently I hadn’t.
I am currently studying for my MSc in food science and innovation and as part of my study I recently had to look at five different company statements and actions on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and their environmental claims. The task was to delve deep, if you like, to see if their public claims are in fact a reality? I won’t name names in this forum, suffice to say not everything was as it was claimed or appeared to be. There were some big names amongst them, some of them really should be sitting on the proverbial naughty step, a very strongly worded letter is winging its way to one or two of them who just lied…
Greenwashing is conveying a false or misleading impression publicly on websites, tender documents, social media etc, providing information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound than they really are. Greenwashing is considered an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly. As an example, companies involved in greenwashing behaviour might make claims that their products are from recycled or are recyclable materials or have energy-saving or fuel saving benefits. If for example those recyclable materials once used then only go into landfill then that’s a false or misleading message. Although some of the environmental claims might be partly true, companies engaged in greenwashing typically exaggerate their claims or the benefits in an attempt to mislead consumers.
In these most challenging of times, a period in time which has touched most humans in some way, never have health, well-being, environment, sustainability and in turn corporate social responsibility been so important. Some of these factors have become uppermost in the minds and mindfulness of many. Not just words, but deeds, and in this case, actions speak louder than words. To effect real change in a business means that every single person working in that organisation has to be part of it, they must know, understand and be able to articulate the objectives of the business towards their sustainability goals. That really does mean everyone. If you have a real message to get across and make meaningful changes towards sustainability, then this is your time to shine.
We are in a time where getting rid of your single use plastics is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of sustainability, there is more to do, so much more. Share the good things your organisation is doing honestly and what it’s really doing long-term, it really is best to keep schtum about what’s not being done! The importance of being earnest and truthful these days is paramount, as someone just might be checking what you say is legit! If all the company, you work for is doing, is getting rid of the odd plastic bag or plastic spoon, it might be time to have a think about that, as they also represent you! The 2030 sustainability goals are just 10 years away. so make those changes now before someone makes them for you.
Top tips for sustainability on airlines, trains, cruise ships and travel and everyone who is and wants to work with them…
1. Make sustainability part of every employees, customers and bosses’ top agenda and daily existence. Not to do so in 2020 is sticking your head in the sand and will lead you to the Jurassic park of extinction.
2. Collaborate non-competitively’ work with other airlines/similar suppliers to create goals, workable strategies, and targets that you can work together on and share costs’ there is a cost to being green, so doesn’t it just make sense to share that?
3. Pre-order’ really it is time isn’t it? Half the world is obese, and half the world is starving, surely, we have the IT that can handle a passenger pre-ordering their food onboard, so the rest they didn’t order doesn’t go into landfill or’burnt for energy!’ Waste not want not, the passenger pre orders and gets the food they want = happy passenger
4. Increased weight = more fuel, get rid of it, there are so many ways to do it, a rethink on crockery, cutlery, glassware might be a good place to start?
5. Retire the old birds, I mean planes obviously. You might keep a vintage car, but do you really want to be flying in a commercial plane at 37,000ft that’s 35 years old, those spare parts are harder to find #justsaying
6. Single use plastics just get rid of them’ there are so many other compostable options for when there is no wash up facilities. There is even compostable cling film.
7. When you say you are composting your waste, are you really? Or perhaps your caterer is doing it for you, or are they really? Oh, I hear you say, its contaminated waste coming off a plane is it, well there’s a conversation that needs to be had at government level?
8. Offset your carbon and I mean all of it. That needs to be part of the passenger cost on every airline, even the low-cost ones.
9. Crew’ those wonderful people who deal with all of the front-line stuff, the good the bad and the ugly. Look after your crew in a way that allows them to be sustainable. Communicate your message to them and they will be your absolute best ambassadors, as they always are.
10. Your passengers and customers want to know they are travelling with airlines that are fully accountable and responsible. Passengers of today will also do their bit if you show them the way. Today that means sustainability in a business that is typically portrayed as one of the worst offenders for carbon emissions. So, make those emissions count just be truthful about it!