It’s a trap; how to beware of greenwashing, pinkwashing and bluewashing


Credits: Tell the Truth / Green Wash Photograph: Vincenzo Lullo /

Here are some tips so you don’t get caught in the greenwashing trap:

  1. Be a sceptic; lack of transparency is often a dead giveaway that a company isn’t actually green.
  2. Look for certified eco-labels; terms like eco-friendly, sustainable and recycled are often superficially affixed to products. Try downloading the app ecolabel index, and this helps you track over 400 labels in over 150 countries.
  3. Do your research, and if they make you work for information, then they are probably trying to cover something up. Some useful apps to help you when shopping around are how good, think dirty, good on you and eco-label guide.
  4. Is the company still carrying out the same processes it was before? Are they actually changing their businesses models core? For example, is Apple is reducing its comprehensive carbon footprint by 35%, and all its data centres are powered entirely by renewable energy. Still, the culture of Apple proves otherwise; when unused and unrecycled smartphones are depleting the planet of necessary resources, Apple continues to push its “buy one every year strategy” and planned obsolescence to keep profit margins high. If Apple wanted to make fundamental changes, it could easily make upgradable devices to extend product lifecycle and cut down e-waste. For more information on e-waste, check out our previous article.
  5. Is the company or government continuing to put the onus on individual action and consumers, rather than taking the bulk of the responsibility and action themselves?

Pinkwashing or Rainbowwashing

Credits: Primark Pride Photograph: AL Robinson /
  1. Is it seasonal and short-term? Are companies otherwise homophobic or transphobic for most of the year aside from pride week?
  2. Are they working with the LGBTQI+ communities, and if so, in what capacity?
  3. Is the campaign explicitly about LGBTQI+ people, or is it general advertising about the brand or with generic statements and rainbows on garments?
  4. Are the products and campaigns reinforcing the systems of oppression that we see today? For example, in the fashion industry, or is it a genuinely inclusive outreach?
  5. What models and designers are they using for the campaign? And are they employing them for any other campaigns for the rest of the year?
  6. Is the gay community the only community they make mention of or talk about? When they don’t mention the others, they are making the rest invisible.
  7. Is their main motto “love is love”? If so, this is only validating LGBTQI+ people in the context of romantic love and a relationship.
  8. What is the company’s internal culture?




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