According to a 2021 report from First Insight and the Baker Retailing Center, 75% of Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) consumers place sustainability ahead of brand names in their purchasing decisions and actions.
The term ‘greenwashing‘ refers to a form of deceptive/or misleading marketing used to exaggerate the environmental benefits of something, such as a product, investment, or policy, to drive engagement or increased support from an environmentally minded audience.
Accusations of ‘greenwashing’ are commonly made against companies, organizations, and governments who are seen to spend substantial amounts of money on green marketing and less on actions that lead to tangible and impactful change.
Where did the term come from?
The term “greenwashing” was originally coined by prominent environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986. As the story goes, Jay had stopped off in Fiji to do some surfing at the Beachcomber Resort, and whilst there, he noted several signs around the resort asking guests to reuse towels to help mitigate ecological damage. After noticing the resort was also expanding, with development causing damage to the local ecology, Jay was surprised by the misalignment between this messaging and the less environmentally friendly actions taken by the resort.
In a later essay, he suggested that the resort was misleading guests into believing that encouraging the reuse of towels as part of their environmental strategy, and was, in fact, a cost-saving measure. Jay’s article used the phrase ‘it all comes out in the greenwash’ – subsequently, this term was adopted by the broader media and is now a commonly used term.