As consumers become more aware of the environmental impact of what they buy, their preferences for "eco-friendly" products become more evident. Even more, a good part of them is ready to pay more in order to obtain this type of product.

Faced with this trend, advertisers do not hesitate to use deceptive arguments capturing the attention of consumers to sell products that are in no way natural or ecological, in particular through use. The colour green in packaging, advertising or point of sale, use of fictitious eco-labels, illusory environmental and sustainable development commitments.

They thus adopt "Greenwashing", this fallacious and abusive "green" marketing technique, more and more common, which consists for a company, organization or multinational to give itself a green and ecological image that does not correspond to reality.

Indeed, these companies spend much more money in advertising and communication disguised in green, than in actions in favour of the environment, others simply change their visual identity (logo) or use ecological or respectful slogans of the environment to make their consumers fall into the trap.

Aspiring for an ecological and responsible positioning, these firms make consumers believe that their products are natural, green, organic, and - above all - good for health. A sort of optical illusion, because consuming organic has become a trend, it only costs advertising and it brings in money.

Greenwashing to deceive the public

Worse still, multinationals are known all over the world, generally operating in the automotive, agro-food, IT or energy sector, which through their activities improperly pollute nature and the environment, restore and green their image by opting for this deceptive marketing process, because to manufacture a product with green patterns costs much less than to formulate it with natural or ecological components.

Some companies abuse the ecological component to green their images without offering a sustainable service for the benefit of citizens. This technique is like "an act of deception of public opinion", this ecology facade is an erroneous presentation of the facts bordering on false advertising.

In this regard, the protection of nature remains a great responsibility to be fully assumed, the finger at any company that uses the ecological argument in its communication campaign while the interest of its product (or service) for the environment is non-existent. environmental protection is part of the activity of all stakeholders, namely companies (following regulatory requirements in environmental matters), associations and citizens.

Anti-greenwashing guide to defending consumers

According to the anti-greenwashing guide, designed by the French Ecological Transition Agency (ADEME), greenwashing is a message that can mislead consumers about the real ecological quality of the product or the reality of the sustainable development approach.

To detect the green out of the fake, the anti-greenwashing guide, aimed at raising awareness among advertisers tempted by these bad practices, identified the most common bad habits which transform the use of the ecological argument and the argument of sustainable development in abuse.

Among these habits, which hardly deceive, the real lie (there is nothing ecological in the product or the service touted as such), the disproportionate promise (the product or service has an ecological interest, but it does not make it harmless or beneficial for the environment) and vague words (the vocabulary used is imprecise, too general and is not defined in the message).

It is also a question of insufficient information (the product probably has an interest for the environment, but it is difficult to understand why, how, and where to learn more), of an overly suggestive image (the visual used suggests that the product or service has ecological virtues that it has little or no), a false label and an off-topic highlighting (ecology is mentioned, for example through an action that the company has conducted elsewhere, but this has no connection with the product or service touted in the campaign).

Non-existent evidence (impossible to obtain from the company or on its website or they are not credible) and false exclusivity (ecological interest is touted as exclusive, while the law obliges all products or services similar to adopting it) are also among the signs of greenwashing, notes the guide.

Increasingly, consumers are becoming particularly sensitive to the environmental and sustainable development claims of these companies. Therefore, companies and advertisers are required to demonstrate total transparency and responsibility by agreeing, if necessary, to submit to more precise checks on the ecological veracity of their products.