How to identify Green Wash

Sustainable – everyone wants to be it, but what is actually behind the claim? More and more brands, companies and hotels promote organic products, sustainability and environmental consciousness, but are they really? Which of the many green certificates can you actually trust?

As a consumer or guest, it becomes more difficult each day, to identify what is sustainable. Here, I will give you a few tips, what to look out for and which things you you should take into consideration, when you want to shop or travel eco-friendly.

beach clean up (4) Kopie
At The Tongsai Bay in Thailand, there is no sign of Green Wash. Instead, they have a core interest for sustainability. For example, the hotel regularly organizes a beach clean up.

What is Green Wash?

Green Wash is described as the promoting of green initiatives, products or process that actually do not have anything to with sustainability or only superficially. For example, there are many hand cremes that are promoted with natural ingredients, but also have chemical ones as well.

Hotels promote that they are eco-friendly, because the guest can decide, how frequently the towels are changed – but do not have any other green initiatives. You can compare it with a green cloak: from the outside, it looks like its green, but as soon as the green cloak is taken off, there is nothing left.

More illusion than reality: this is a fact for Green Wash. As a customer and traveler with a good conscience, you choose the “sustainable” product or accommodation. But how can you be really sure that it actually is sustainable?

Completely different than with green wash, many Green Pearls members have implemented the philosophy “from farm to table”.

5 Signs of Green Wash…

Today, with all the oversupply and over stimulation it is not that easy to identify green wash on the first look. And mostly, the brands are so good in it that it actually looks like a green product and convinces you.

Nevertheless, there are some obvious signs, from which you can identify green wash.

1. One-sided view: The product promotes that it has an organic ingredient. But what about the other ingredients? A chicken soup for example promotes that it has carrots from an organic farm – but how the chicken are held remains a mystery.

2. No description: A company issues claims, for example “no animal testing”, but does not further describe, how this is implemented.

3. Contradictions: Especially in the fashion industry, whole collections are promoted with organic cotton, but still produce in Asia. While organic cotton can be sustainable, the production is far away from that  – a huge contradiction!

4. Irrelevant Claims: Brands promote for example that their product is “CFC-free”, but this is an irrelevant claim, as CFC has been forbidden since the 1980s.

5. Pure Misinformation: Claims are made that sound good, but are actually not even sustainable in truth.

Waste Management Tongsai Bay klein Kopie
The Tongsai Bay, one of Green Pearls founding members has set sustainability as an overall focus in all hotel areas.

… and 5 Tips, how to identify the authentically green

So there are many hazards and misinformation that companies and accommodations want to sell you as sustainable. Now you ask yourself: “Whom can I trust?”.

The answer to this questions is not that easy unfortunately, but of course there are a few things that you can do, in order to prevent falling for green wash.

1. Be sceptic: Only because something is declared sustainable, green or organic – do not believe it right away.

2. Question it: If you are unsure, then try to find more information on the product or accommodation on the internet or somewhere else.

3. Inquire: Especially at accommodations, it is easy to make contact and just ask. If the accommodation really is invested in sustainability, someone at the hotel will be able to answer all your questions. Many of the Green Pearls members for example actually have an own sustainability manager!

4. Learn more about sustainability: The best thing still is, to inform yourself about sustainability. For this, head to official website all around environmental protection and sustainability. Official brands and certificates help to get an overview. Just pay attention that the certification is legitimate and not a random self-named organization.

5. Trust your instinct: If you get a bad feeling about something, then it mostly has a good reason!

L'Adagio Green Pearls®
The Green Pearls sign – here the accommodation is authentic and most of all, eco-friendly.

Green Pearls as a platform for eco-friendly travel

Exactly at this green wash problem in the travel industry, is where Green Pearls and its members come into play. It is really difficult for accommodations that are genuinely green to facilitate this to honestly and authentically to their guests.

This is why we support our members in their green initiatives and show on Green Pearls transparently, which green initiatives each individual resort, hotel and vacation rental  do and go into detail, what sustainable aspects are part of this accommodation.

Schwarzwald Panorama
Schwarzwald Panorama is a proud member of Green Pearls – you can identify it right at the entrance due to the Green Pearls sign.

You can see in detail, how unique places become members. After direct contact and a tour on site, every potential member has to fulfill at least 80% of the Green Pearls requirements.

Our requirements follow the certification Green Globe and takes all factors of sustainability into account – from architecture to zero emission. By the way, you can recognize Green Pearls members directly on site, through the Green Pearls sign. All members receive a Green Pearls sign after a successful entry.

So you can be sure that at Green Pearls, it is not a green cloak, but a green core.