Corporations Leading the Charge on Sustainability: Looking Beyond Greenwashing

March 21, 2018
Green Tree
Happy Finals Week Gaucho!! Today's post comes from Environmental Intern Dori Lucero enjoy her take on going green.
There is no denying that “Going Green” is more popular than ever.  Corporations love the positive PR that comes from a good environmental reputation, and consumers love feeling good about their purchases.  In the big picture, this type of energy and interest in environmental sustainability is an important social movement and a valuable step towards a more environmentally conscious consumer market.  However, it also raises the question of which companies are the real deal, and who is simply glossing over an otherwise subpar corporate sustainability plan.  Companies invest millions in strategic marketing designed to create the illusion that sustainability and health and responsibility are deeply engrained in their corporate culture, and that by purchasing their product you are supporting a healthier planet.  As tempting as it may be to simply pick anything with a green label or the word “natural,” these features don’t guarantee a sustainable product and may be doing more harm than good.  A little research goes a long way on this issue, however, and there are a few simple steps any consumer can take to make smarter choices about where their money goes and what types of practices it supports.
If you are purchasing any product with an ingredient list – food, cosmetics, cleaning products, etc. – the ingredient label is a great place to start.  Ingredient literacy is a skill that requires a little bit of development, but the more time you take to glance at the materials that go into your products, the easier it becomes to pick out the components that don’t belong in your body or home.  The presence of toxic or unnatural components in consumer products is not only bad for your health, but a red flag for environmental impact.  Start by taking the time to familiarize yourself with a few of the worst offending ingredients found in different types of products and make an effort to identify and avoid products and brands that make use of these items.
Manufacturing Location
Pay attention to the location where the products you purchase are manufactured and make an effort to support those produced domestically.  While there are many fantastic and admirable brands operating and manufacturing their products outside of the United States, purchasing items produced locally guarantees that the brand is held to minimum operation standards established by the US government.  Additionally, these products travel shorter distances to arrive in store locations or on your doorstep, reducing the carbon emissions produced by transportation.
Third Party Assessments
When all else fails, utilize the technology at your fingertips to check product ratings and certifications.  Leaders in environmental sustainability are often certified by trusted third party assessments such as Energy Star, Certified Organic, Fair Trade USA Certified, and Green Good Housekeeping Seal.  Learn to identify these popular, but often overlooked, symbols that can be found on many products sold in conventional stores.  For an even more comprehensive analysis of corporate environmental practices, apps such as “Good Guide” and “Good on You” make it easy to search products and check environmental ratings.

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