We live in a time when people are recognizing they need to make positive changes to help improve the environmental status of our planet. There are easy choices we can make as consumers that create the positive impacts we seek. At least we thought these choices were easy. It turns out that the information we receive is all but simple. We put our trust in companies to do the research, create the products and behave in a way that we expect, yet that does not always happen. As consumers we may rely on the idea of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to make our purchasing decisions simple. However, at times we have been intentionally “Greenwashed” by the corporate world. As responsible consumers we need to do our research and then support the businesses we feel are socially responsible and match the values that we have as individuals.
Before we begin we need to understand what Corporate Social Responsibility and Greenwashing are.
Corporate Social Responsibility as defined by Business New Daily in an article published by What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
Greenwashing as defined by the Cambridge Dictionary online is “to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment that it really is” (Greenwashing Definition)
Some people are content with purchasing products that have a label that reads “green”, “organic”, “biodegradable”, “eco-friendly”, etc. and feel like they are doing their part. Other people need more. They want proof that they are supporting companies and using products that are not making more of a negative impact on our planet and are geared toward achieving sustainability standards. Corporate Social Responsibility is a way for consumers to have the research done for them, but only if it is done properly.
In order to educate ourselves about the process and standards of CSR we can consider the following articles:
Interested in learning more about CSR? Take a look at this comprehensive guide about implementation of corporate social responsibility for businesses in Canada.
The following information from 2015 tells us which companies are operating with a “strong performance across important sustainability issues such as resource efficiency, impact on local communities, treatment of employees and responsible supply-chain management”. (Julie Smyth from her article Canada’s top 50 socially responsible corporations: 2015 “How these companies are getting ahead by putting communities, the environment and their employees at the top of their agendas”). *Link below
Walmart is a huge corporation that many consumers rely on for the purchase of their day to day goods. How is Walmart doing with regard to opportunity, sustainability, community? Want to learn more about their impacts? The link below also provides its audience with a Global Responsibility Report.
Greenwashing: What do you need to know? You are making the effort to be environmentally conscious, just be careful that you aren’t being “Greenwashed”!
There is so much information to sift through. If watching a video makes more sense for you take a look at CBC’s Marketplace on Greenwashing: Busting “Eco” Labels.
So, you don’t want to be “Greenwashed”? What can you do as a consumer to avoid it?
Corporate Social Responsibility is not limited to the idea of whether you are being “Greenwashed” or not. It is also more than having an environmental focus. As mentioned earlier in the article entitled: “What is Corporate Social Responsibility?” by
Take the Colin Kaepernick and Nike headlines that have been in the news as of late. Will corporations speak out more about what they believe in regardless of the risk of using profit?
We all have responsibilities when it comes to what to purchase and who to purchase from. Corporate Social Responsibility efforts can make it easier on society to purchase products that they feel can be more of a help than a hindrance to our planet. Without policies in place we are at risk of being “Greenwashed” into buying and using products we think fit into our personal philosophies. As consumers we have the power to hold companies and corporations accountable. If we don’t believe in the product we don’t have to buy it. If we don’t educate ourselves or take a stand for what we believe in, the changes we seek will never take place.