In the time of a transition to sustainable living, awareness for our actions and respect for the planet that we live in, our comprehension and judgement of some very important concepts are vital. 

Lately, we started hearing more often some terms in social and digital campaigns, websites, commercials. In the speed of light, majority of brands became eco-ethical and sustainable. It is astonishing how quickly it’s been solved the issue of becoming more environmentally friendly, socially sound and economically appealing. If it was so easy why we haven’t done it before? It might be a dangerous game for companies to assert themselves already accomplished and mislead consumers — although only taken small and insignificant steps, sometimes no steps.

So, how a conscious consumer can differentiate between a solid action and a greenwash?

First, we need to understand the logic behind the term sustainability, so that we can easily figure out if a brand or company being honest and knowing what they are doing. Companies which are meaning to revolutionize their business in line with sustainability not often but always have a genuine sustainability mission. They know what they are doing, why they are doing it and, able to discuss, scientifically prove, how they are doing it. Those missions are well studied, carefully designed and are started to be incorporated in their business models. Genuine missions require well planned and systematic investments and innovations, and mostly follow a bottom up approach.

Let’s pass to greenwashing. Do you want to diagnose a brand or company that is greenwashing? Pay attention to these: you often read very fancy and trendy words on how they are sustainable but no specific details how they are doing it. They don’t have any well-structured, long term plans or a roadmap on how to achieve set-goals? Any major investments? Any innovations that they break-through in their market? Or instead you hear repeatedly how they define themselves using trendy adjectives, however, acting in a tiny, narrow arena of a single aspect which is not coordinated with the holistic philosophy of sustainability? 

Companies that put real effort in sustainable production systems holistically integrate their business plans into all compartments of sustainability. Bad news for some: sustainability cannot be achieved with single targets! You cannot render a product sustainable by acting on a single point of it! Sustainable development has three pillars, so actions should focus on all three compartments. Can you imagine the dynamics lie behind a product? Products have a history, and the history involves environment, society and economy… from material sourcing to disposal of a product we use natural resources, energy, and labor. Therefore, if a product is sustainable it has less impact and more benefit for environment, for society and for economy.

Seems that, nowadays, being a conscious consumer is harder than ever, in the same time, if achieved, it makes of a bigger impact. Brands/companies that are committed and visionary enough to make a breakthrough in their market and pioneer in each compartment of sustainability deserve appreciation by consumers.