The United Nations mentions climate change as long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts could be natural. However, The UN claims that since the 1800s, human activities have been the main reason for climate change, mainly because we burn fossil fuels, and they produce heat-trapping gases. Since then, we have strived to make the world a cooler place, one where everyone may enjoy winter clothes and monsoons are not affected. But is everything we do in the name of “eco-friendly habits” actually eco-friendly?
Do you know what Green Washing is? Well, it has nothing to do with washing green clothes… In fact, it is not ‘washing’ in its literal sense. Green Washing is a marketing tactic where a product is labelled as environment-friendly with the aim of making better profits. Does that mean all products we purchase are just capitalistic strategies? How do we then lead an eco-friendly life? When we are misinformed (or worse, uninformed), It becomes difficult to work towards a minimalistic carbon footprint and lead a greener life.
This article will help you understand whether the life you are leading right now is increasing your carbon handprint or just making your footprints worse. The thing with green-washed products is that they might actually look like they’re helpful, they might also counter one or two issues related to environmental degradation, but they might be affecting the environment in a completely different way. This becomes all too gimmicky and hurts the feelings of sensitive consumers who actually want to make a change. Let’s look at a few ‘green’ products and understand why it has become crucial to look beyond what the media simply show us.
First thing’s first, cotton bag!
You might have seen netizens vouch for these stylish alternatives to plastic bags. These bags made out of cotton are considered the spearheads for environmental action by many. Well, the facts say otherwise! Turns out, this is a classic example of greenwashing. In reality, cotton bags are water-intensive when it comes to production, and once made into tote bags, they are hardly compostable, especially when dyed. In order to only compensate the environmental impact of creating tote bags, one would have to use them for about 20,000 times! What’s the problem then? Use it that many times! Well, that’s not possible, because a regular tote bag can only be used around 7000 times.
Paper bags are no better.
According to a study conducted by NTU, for single-use purposes, the single-use plastic bag is the best option. Yes, not cotton, not paper, but a plastic bag is better! The same study also showed that cotton was actually the worst out of all. The truth is, if used over 50 times, the reusable polypropylene (a form of thermoplastic polymer), a non-woven plastic bag is the most sustainable option.
Another way we have often been entrapped in the clutches of marketing tactics is with the so-called ‘eco-friendly’ fashion industry.
In terms of sustainability, fashion is already dicey. The fashion industry contributes to greenhouse gases almost in equal amounts to the European continent. The fashion industry is water-intensive and uses dyes a lot, so it’s always better to look into brands and their production habits before buying sustainable fashion.
The food industry is also privy to greenwashing, and the healthy eating and organic produce trends have resulted in a boom in ‘all-natural’ and ‘sustainably produced’ brands that aren’t at par with their labels.
Food products labelled green may be green in one aspect of food production, but not all. The right thing to do is to look for seals that indicate a brand can be trusted – one of them is the stamp FSSAI (Food Safety and Standard Authority of India) rating. You can also look at the list of ingredients to be aware of what really goes in your food. Remember, never hesitate to question!
So, look into these habits that you follow, and go for the truth instead of falling for marketing. Media and marketing are tools that can be used to direct the community to the greater good, but sadly, it is not always the case. It becomes our responsibility to do our due research. Remember the thumb rule, the greenest option is the one you already have!