Noticias / Regional Development

The environmental responsibility of Greenwashing and Green Marketing

Tourism companies need to recognise the importance of green marketing in their advertising, especially in view of the emergence of greenwashing practices, which aim to create an image of sustainable practices.

Publicado el 21/03/2024

In recent years, consumers have been exposed to numerous advertising campaigns promoting products and services based on environmental protection, with the aim of influencing and generating empathy among consumers.

However, the reality of the message discrepancies in terms of compliance with environmental standards presented by each company borders on misleading advertising. This practice is known as “greenwashing”, a communications strategy in which a company or organisation attempts to present a falsely positive image of its environmental practices. Its roots go back to 1986, when environmental activist Jay Westerveld pointed out the inconsistency between the towel recycling practices of a hotel that was, at the same time, expanding and destroying an ecosystem on the island of Fiji.

In essence, greenwashing involves exaggerating or distorting the environmentally friendly aspects of a product, service, company or practice in order to mislead consumers and enhance their perception of the brand without any real backing in sustainable actions or policies.

In this sense, Nancy E. Furlow, an academic at Marymount University in the United States, defines the concept as: “the provision of false or insufficient information by an organisation to present its public image as environmentally responsible”.

In response to this situation, a bill is currently being drafted in Chile with the aim of sanctioning these practices, defining concepts, establishing sanctions and regulating a commercial activity that is currently only supervised through general regulations, such as the Consumer Law No. 19.496.

On the other hand, there is green marketing, also known as eco-marketing. This is a marketing strategy focused on promoting products and services that are considered environmentally responsible. The main objective of green marketing is to satisfy consumer needs while minimising negative environmental impact.

In addition, it is a key tool that aims to redesign product, price, distribution and promotion based on ecological objectives, linked to environmental responsibility and collaboration with the environment. These objectives are backed up with empirically substantiated messages through environmental certifications, workshops and courses. This includes the promotion of sustainable business practices, consumer education on the importance of choosing environmentally friendly products.

Green marketing can provide a number of benefits for companies, such as improved corporate reputation, increased customer loyalty, access to new market segments, compliance with environmental regulations and long-term cost reduction through more efficient and sustainable practices.

For this reason, a company committed to green marketing must make decisions about its products that are aimed at reducing the consumption of resources and minimising the amount of waste generated throughout the product’s life cycle, while still meeting consumer needs. The eco-efficiency of a product is based on its raw materials, the type of production process, its use, its environmental performance throughout its life cycle and its potential for reuse. Although green products contribute to reducing negative externalities on the environment, they cannot eliminate their impact.

In short, green marketing reflects a real commitment to sustainability, promoting environmentally friendly products and business practices. In contrast, greenwashing, while appearing as an environmental commitment, lacks authenticity and credibility. In that sense, it is essential that consumers are aware and critical of these misleading practices, choosing to support authentic initiatives that not only promote a more responsible marketplace, but also contribute to a sustainable future for our planet.