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Greenwashing - what's the problem?

At RMF we have played an active role in the construction industries circular economy and we have taken pride in doing so in an ethical and educational manner. As part of our position and experience we also feel education of the market is important, a new word that it is growing in popularity is ‘Greenwashing’. So what is Greenwashing and how to we avoid it?

What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is a term used to describe the deceptive marketing strategies employed by certain organisations to portray themselves as environmentally responsible while covering practices or impact on the environment. It often involves using cleverly worded advertising, misleading labels, and superficial actions that create an illusion of sustainability.


The Harmful Effects of Greenwashing:

Misleading Customers: Greenwashing may lead customers to buying decisions that they made with the best intentions but without them realising their well meaning purchase was not as ethical as they though.

Undermining Genuine Efforts: With one ‘bad apple’ in any industry it does tend to tarnish the reputation of all of those within it and cause a sense of mistrust from customers as a whole.

Impacts on the Environment: Greenwashing means that meaningful change isn’t actually happening it just ‘looks like it is’ meanwhile the damage from consumption of that product is still occurring.


Identifying Greenwashing:

Vague or Irrelevant Claims: Beware of statements like "eco-friendly," "green," or "natural" without any specific details or evidence to support them. Genuine sustainable companies tend to provide concrete information about their practices and certifications.

Hidden Trade-Offs: Companies that highlight a single eco-friendly aspect while ignoring other significant environmental issues may be guilty of greenwashing. It is important to consider the bigger picture and evaluate a company's overall impact. One ‘green’ product doesn’t represent them overall.

Lack of Transparency: Companies genuinely committed to sustainability are usually open about their practices, certifications, and achievements. If a company is not forthcoming with information or fails to disclose their environmental impact, it may be a red flag.


Taking Action Against Greenwashing:

Educate Yourself: Stay informed about sustainable practices, certifications, and legitimate organizations that promote environmental responsibility. This knowledge will help you ask the right questions and make informed decisions.

Verify Claims: Don't take green claims at face value. Look for concrete evidence such as third-party certifications, transparent reporting, and genuine efforts towards reducing environmental impact.

Support Genuine Sustainability: Seek out companies that have a long-standing commitment to sustainability, transparently communicate their practices, and contribute positively to the environment. Reward businesses that are genuinely making a difference with your purchasing power.


At RMF we are very proud of our commitment to sustainable practices, independent verification and transparency. In 2022 we became a signatory of the Anti Greenwash Charter which seeks to eradicate poor practices and greenwashing from the construction industry.

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