Take sustainability issues more seriously, research companies and premise of ‘greenwashing’

Mahalee Evans, Forum contributor

Earth Day—the modern environmental movement that started in the 1970’s is the “largest secular observance in the world,” according to the Earth Day Network.

Since the ‘70s it has evolved into a theme that we now call “sustainability.”

But what is sustainability?

Is it planting trees? Is it saving the manatees?

Most people don’t have a bigger picture idea of what working towards a sustainable planet involves.

The problem with sustainability is that many just see it as a fad. It gets tweeted about and posted on Facebook, but most people miss the point in their square one-by-one snapshots on Instagram.

Although unfortunate, it’s not necessarily the fault of the masses.

Companies big and small play on the senses of consumers to make them think they are “helping the planet”, when in reality it’s just a scam.

The Clorox Green Works line for example, isn’t actually any more environmentally friendly than the normal Clorox line.

The compostable cleaning wipes rate in the high concern category for cancer, have longstanding respiratory effects and contain skin irritants and allergens, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Clorox is one of many companies that partakes in “greenwashing.”

Greenwashing comes from the term “whitewashing,” which is used in situations when companies use false language or other means to prevent people from learning the truth about their products.

Greenwashing is similar but is used in an environmental context.

Some other known products that partake in greenwashing are Volkswagen cars, Huggies diapers, Lululemon activewear and LG and Samsung refrigerators, according to the New York Times.

Greenwashing contributes to the dilemma of the sustainability fad. Another big culprit is the fashion industry.

They advertise their “organic cottons” and shirts that say “Save the Planet,” but really do nothing to contribute to helping the planet themselves. But because being eco-friendly is so popular and fashion-forward, they either have to keep up or shut up.

On the same note, what does it really mean when companies say they are “eco-friendly”?

By definition it means earth-friendly or not harmful to the environment, but companies can say they are eco-friendly all they want and as a consumer, it’s up to you to do the research on whether or not that is true.

All of these things help to blind people into thinking that sustainability is about wearing the organic clothes and using the “green” cleaning products while the people who are actually trying to educate the public about what it really takes to lead a sustainable lifestyle get labeled extremists and paranoid.

So if you care about this sort of thing, make sure to do your research before purchasing something that claims to be green. Don’t give them money for lying.

And if you don’t care about this sort of thing, you should.

The opinions expressed in Evans’s column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Barometer staff.

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