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5 common ways beauty brands are greenwashing


Brands know that they have to do something about their environmental impact. But sadly a lot of brands end up doing things that make them seem more sustainable rather than actually lowering their negative impact on the planet. I think it's important for consumers and brands learn more about this so consumers can demand better and so brands will do better. Greenwashing is not going to cut it and I hope more brands start to cut the bullshit in 2022.



1. Plastic recycling

"100% recyclable!"

Plastic recycling does not work. it has been well known for decades. but brands still promote it as sustainable. Plastic Recycling is a scam and perpetuating this idea is just helping the fossil fuel industry keep destroying the planet. Only 9% of plastic has ever been recycled and only 10% of that gets made into something that even CAN be recycled again.


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2. Take-back-programs

"terracycle will take care of it!"

Terracycle (or PACT or any other similar company) actually can't recycle everything. They make their money from brands that pay them to greenwash their reputation and to take their trash. It is not safe from the landfill and some hard to recycle items cause more negative impact from being recycled than going to landfill. The intention of programs like this is to make consumers believe that all plastic can be recycled, which is just not true.


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3. Bioplastic

"it's made out of sugarcane!"

Sugarcane gets turned into biofuel that then gets turned into plastic, once it has been turned into plastic it is chemically the same as fossil fuel plastic. There is NO difference. You are still causing as much plastic pollution as if you use fossil fuel based plastic.


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4. Ocean waste plastic

"were saving the oceans"

Plastic taken out of the ocean is generally degraded and dirty. It takes manual labor to sort and clean it and in most cases you need to mix it with virgin plastic for it to be useable. This makes it extremely expensive, most OWP is actually "ocean bound", plastic that otherwise would of gone into the ocean. The only way to keep plastic out of our oceans is to produce less.


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5. Plastic Neutral/Negative

"were plastic negative!"

The only way to actually be plastic neutral or negative should be not using plastic. Since plastic recycling is a scam, supporting programs to clean up plastic waste does not in any way compensate for you using plastic for your products. Cleaning up plastic is good, but it doesn't give you license to just make more plastic. The only way to keep plastic out of our oceans and environment is to make less.


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Don't fall for it!

we need to do better.

It's not just consumers that fall for greenwashing. It's easy to believe something that we really want to be true. It can be really hard to accept that you were wrong and something you are doing is not as sustainable as you thought it was. Think about where you get your information, is your sustainability expert selling you the solution?

Portrait photo of Jennifer Carlsson, short neon green hair and rainbow colored eye makeup
Jennifer Carlsson
The Beauty Brand Expert

I'm Jennifer Carlsson, a 30 year old strategy consultant, competitive market researcher, data analyst and designer from Stockholm, Sweden. I know more about more beauty brands than anyone else and I'm an expert in what it takes for beauty brands to succeed.
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