How marketers can play their part in avoiding greenwashing scandals

By our News Team | 2022

Among other things, astute marketers can help their companies to avoid the ‘seven deadly sins of greenwashing,’ advises marketing body.

Consumers, pressure groups and regulatory authorities are increasingly aware of – and cracking down on – corporate greenwashing. So how do marketers play their part in helping their organisations to be authentic and avoid the many pitfalls?

In a recent article published on its website, the American Marketing Association (AMA), gives some advice gleaned from experts. 

Nina Goodrich, Director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, cites the seven sins of greenwashing: the sin of the hidden trade-off, sin of no proof, sin of vagueness, sin of worshiping false labels, sin of irrelevance, sin of the lesser of two evils, and the sin of fibbing.


Photo by Philipp Mimkes via Wikimedia Commons

Goodrich concluded that all of these greenwashing issues are still rampant. “An example of one of the most egregious claims that we see is stating a package is ‘100% recyclable.’ However, nothing is 100% recyclable because packaging uses inks, coatings, adhesives and other materials,” Goodrich said.

Some products are merely a PR exercise

Brian Hauck, Design Manager and sustainability expert for US-based business services company CBX, notes that while some companies may introduce a product to show its commitment to protecting the environment, that step is often performed to generate positive PR rather than for its impact on the earth.

“The reason you should be committing to eco-friendly practices as marketers or package designers is not only to get credit for it, but because it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “The planet is in peril.”

Companies that really want to make a difference with sustainability efforts should start by putting together a list of sustainability goals and an action plan to make it happen, Hauck believes.

“Recyclability and other eco-friendly claims are going to be ‘table stakes’ (must-haves) for brands because as each generation ages, sustainability becomes more important,” he said. “It’s going to be required by a lot of retailers. There are several [US] states, and even the [US] Federal government, which will be requiring more sustainable solutions from marketers of consumer-packaged goods.”

Avoiding greenwashing is not difficult, as long as a company stays true to its word and follows its plan accordingly, the AMA article emphasises.

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.