If you are working towards becoming zero waste or care about the environment, you probably spend an exorbitant amount of time researching companies. Recently, I’ve struggled in finding sustainable dish soap, laundry detergent, and of all things, underwear.
It’s not that there’s any shortage of companies who want to sell me these things while giving me a pat on the back for “helping” the world, but that nearly all of the companies I investigated were covering something up about their product.
It’s such that when I researched laundry sheets, I struggled to discern whether “polyvinyl alcohol” which was farther identified as “a biodegradable monomer/polymer” was an innovative solution or waffle-stomping to avoid saying it’s plastic. Even now, I’m not 100% certain.
Other examples include outright lying to customers, rather than trying to rush customers past the less-green aspects of their product. An example of this is the infamous Volkswagen scandal, when Volkswagen sold a line of diesal engines as the most environmentally friendly ever, when they were in fact so off the charts bad they were 400x over the legal limit for pollution.
In the rush to get people to buy their product, businesses are trying to use a new tool–the desire to be environmentally friendly–to sell their product, and they don’t mind if their products actually aren’t environmentally friendly.
A dangerous problem
This isn’t just annoying for customers, it’s potentially deadly. Our climate is rapidly overheating, and many concerned citizens are trying to do their part to stop choosing carbon polluting products, unnatural fibers, and plastics. Our world is getting swamped with pollution, and many animals are dying through the hidden world of choices we make.
Greenwashing makes it impossible to make a good, honest decision. If you care enough to “vote with your dollars” that money should go toward something that benefits it. Greenwashing is theft from honest companies who really are environmentally friendly.
What Plan A is doing to help
(Paraphrased from their press release.)
Plan A, a leading carbon emission and ESG management software company, launched a Europe-wide movement against greenwashing. With its “Make 2021 Count” campaign, the Berlin-based start-up is calling on the EU to introduce uniform and binding transparency standards for the corporate carbon emissions accounting in European companies. Companies that claim to be “‘carbon neutral” should be legally required to disclose their carbon footprint to the public. The first step in the campaign is a petition launched April 13th on change.org, whose goal is to collect as many signatures as possible in order to carry the subject of transparency and greenwashing to lawmakers in the European Commission. The campaign is supported by well-known companies such as ecolytiq, Green City Solutions, Onomotion, Joblift and Coya.
Despite a drop in emissions of around 5%, 2020 was not enough to reverse the trend in carbon emissions. This is why this year could be the last chance to meet the 1.5 degree global warming limit enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement. However, an essential prerequisite for this is that there finally are binding regulations in the EU that require companies to transparently disclose their sustainability efforts and carbon reduction measures to the public.
89% of professionals polled by Plan A in an online survey believe greenwashing is not regulated strongly enough. In parallel, there is growing concern that greenwashing undermines the credibility of those companies that are driving actual change. Since its launch in 2017, Plan A has been assisting businesses to steer away from greenwashing with a software that follows a scientific approach to carbon reduction and creates transparency on corporate greenhouse gas emissions.
Interview with Plan A
Plan A graciously responded to us with an e-mail interview. This is our Q&A!
I’m sure by now you’ve faced some opposition over this. How have you handled it?
There will always be debate over what the best course of action to follow is. We were actually very pleased to receive such numerous positive reactions, from businesses, individuals and NGOs alike. We are pushing for more transparency with the end goal of reinforcing and accelerating the sustainable transition. The organizations and individuals who can get behind this have support here.
Has anything particularly challenging come up during the process of creating Plan A?
Creating a company is always a ride with ups and downs. But we can’t think of a day in which we regret having started.
Why are you passionate about this project?We’re passionate about having an impact on our global climate change challenge. Moving the needle in terms of carbon emissions, biodiversity, and natural preservation in general is what motivates us to start each day and pack it with change-inducing action.
What made you decide to move forward on this?The sheer extent of the issues that we face, and the dramatic consequences our current activities have on life on our planet. We want to get every company, organization, human aware of this correlation, and compelled to take action to challenge this status quo.