Beyond Greenwashing

A guide on how to move beyond greenwashing

Tereza Rydlova

Tereza Rydlova

17 Aug, 2023

Beyond Greenwashing

Greenwashing - a buzzword that you might have heard one too many times in the past couple of years. It means using false or misleading statements about environmental credentials, whether unintentionally or as a deliberate marketing strategy. This causes harm to the environment and misleads consumers, stakeholders, and even employees who may want to live a more sustainable lifestyle and are searching for greener options.

Greenwashing can take many forms, such as using vague or meaningless terms like "eco-friendly" or "natural" without providing any specific information about how and if the product is actually environmentally friendly. Companies may also use green imagery or make broad claims about sustainability without providing any evidence to back up their claims.

A graphic displaying that 90% of business leaders think sustainability is important, however, only 60% of companies actually have a sustainability strategy

Let’s move beyond greenwashing and take real action to address climate change and environmental issues. Here’s





Why should you avoid greenwashing?

Protecting the environment:

Greenwashing harms the environment by allowing companies to continue engaging in environmentally harmful practices while appearing to be responsible. By avoiding greenwashing, companies can take actual steps to reduce their environmental impact and protect the planet.

Building trust with consumers:

Consumers are increasingly concerned about environmental issues and want to support companies that are committed to sustainability. By avoiding greenwashing and taking real action to address environmental problems, companies can build trust with their customers and earn their loyalty.

Meeting investor expectations:

Investors are increasingly interested in environmental and social issues and want to invest in companies that are committed to sustainability. By avoiding greenwashing and taking real action on environmental issues, companies can meet investor expectations and attract more capital.

How can you avoid greenwashing?

Announce a net-zero pledge with targets:

A net-zero pledge is a commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by a certain date, typically by reducing emissions and offsetting the remaining emissions. By announcing a net-zero pledge with targets, companies can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and hold themselves accountable for reducing their environmental impact.

Create a transition plan:

To achieve net-zero emissions, companies need to create a transition plan that outlines the steps they will take to reduce their emissions over time. This plan should include specific targets, timelines, and strategies for reducing emissions across the company’s operations and supply chain. Although with the high rates of current warming companies should be aiming to be carbon negative.

Increase transparency and accountability:

To avoid greenwashing, companies need to increase transparency and accountability by disclosing their environmental impact and progress towards their sustainability goals. This can include reporting on greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, waste generation, and other environmental metrics.

Engage with stakeholders and respond to feedback:

Seek input from customers, employees, suppliers, and other relevant stakeholders, alongside experts in the sustainability field. By working together, businesses, consumers, and other stakeholders can achieve more meaningful and lasting change than if they work in isolation. Collaboration can also help to build trust between businesses and consumers - when businesses work with consumers and other stakeholders to address environmental issues, they signal their commitment to sustainability and build a stronger reputation.

A graphic displaying that 1 in 3 of Europe's largest companies have committed to reaching net zero by 2050, however, if these companies continue the pace of emissions reduction they achieved between 2010 and 2019, only 9% are likely to meet the 2050 target

Accidental greenwashing

Greenwashing does not always have to be intentional, accidental greenwashing can happen when businesses make false or misleading environmental claims without realising it. This can be caused by the lack of understanding of the ecological impact of the businesses’ products or operations, or by relying on incomplete and inaccurate data.

To avoid this, make sure to educate yourself and your co-workers on the effect of greenwashing overall, and learn more about the environmental impact of your business.

Internal greenwashing

More often than not, workers are looking into the sustainability of a business when looking for employment - not only because sustainable organisations are also more likely to care for employee welfare, but it's also a source of pride to work for an ethical and respectable company.

A graphic displaying that 70% of workers consider a company's environmental record when deciding on an employer

reenwashing corrupts the businesses’ relationship with its customers and other external stakeholders, however, it can also be deceiving to employees who are focusing on being on an ethical and sustainable career path. Making sure that employees are informed about the sustainability efforts of their employer is crucial for fostering genuine environmental responsibility.

You can prevent internal greenwashing by getting your team involved in the environmental activities of your business, planning volunteering days, attending sustainability events, conferences, and webinars, and inviting sustainability experts to do a deep dive into your company’s green journey.

You can also help other employees become more sustainable in their personal life, by providing them with training and the tools necessary.

In conclusion, greenwashing is not only harmful to the environment, but it also misleads consumers, investors, and other stakeholders. Companies need to take real action to protect the environment, build trust with their customers, and meet investor expectations.

Legislation about greenwashing

The European Union is taking action to address greenwashing and protect consumers and the environment with the

Green Claims Directive


Under these rules, companies will need to justify environmental claims using life cycle assessment, communicate them accurately and holistically, and have them externally verified. Common buzz phrases such as ‘net zero’, ‘carbon neutral’ and ‘eco-friendly’ will not be permitted in advertisements, in social media posts or on packaging unless sufficiently proven and verified. This would apply to claims made voluntarily to consumers in the EU about a product, service or organisation that state or imply a positive effect on the environment. 

Under the proposed rules, companies will need to justify environmental claims using life cycle assessment.

To ensure consumers receive reliable, comparable and verifiable environmental information on products, the proposal includes:

  • Clear guidelines on how companies should prove their environmental claims and labels

  • Requirements for these claims and labels must be checked by an independent and accredited verifier and

  • New rules on the governance of environmental labelling schemes to ensure they are solid, transparent and reliable

The US Federal Trade Commission (PTC) is set to take a look at their

Green Guides

, a legislation first issued in 1992, and last revised in 2012. The upcoming updates will be primarily aimed at carbon offsets and climate change, the terms "Recyclable" and "Recycled Content", and the need for additional guidance.

As well as the Green Guides, many US states are combatting greenwashing through their own legislation, such as California's

suite of state environmental bills

, aimed at untruthful, deceptive, or misleading environmental marketing claims.

Earthly and greenwashing 

At Earthly, we take greenwashing seriously.

Customer review:

We assesses our customers environmental ambitions and reduction goals and ensure these fairly match their level of ambition for nature restoration and ensure any claims are accurate.

Customer Hub:

By actively highlighting our Customer Hub and its benefits, we ensure that our clients understand how to talk about and share their nature contributions.

Social media:

We routinely monitor social media for posts mentioning @Earthly to ensure that the communication is in line with our client's commitments and values.


We take great care in educating our clients on the importance of reducing their negative impact where possible. And in places where they can limit, we help them support high-quality projects that are in line with the

SBTi guidelines

for the industry.


Webinars, demos, and newsletters help us communicate these to our audiences & help educate them on climate issues through leading speakers  

Project assessment:


Project Assessmen


helps us capture the unique co-benefits that our projects have & allows companies to fund projects that closely fall within their supply chain.

For instance,


, Spain’s first mobile-only bank and a certified BCorp, entered into a partnership with Earthly in 2021. 

This partnership allowed imaginBank to provide more than just traditional banking services, offering users the opportunity to have a positive environmental impact while banking.

As part of the partnership, Earthly planted trees when imaginBank customers took certain actions, such as signing up for a prepaid card, creating an account, or referrals.

One of the projects supported was a Forest Restoration project in Spain helping to replant on fire-degraded land - this project was thoughtfully selected as it's close to imaginBank's offices and customer base.

A graphic displaying 'over 430,000 trees planted' with imaginBank logo

Contribute to a sustainable future with Earthly

Move beyond greenwashing and become a leader who makes a difference. Learn about our high-quality projects and choose to support the

nature-based projects

that best align with your business goals; whether that's balancing certain impacts, investing in causes you care about, or taking action to protect nature.