As we continue to strive towards a more sustainable planet, the fate of new e-commerce startups on the market is in the hands of active and eco-friendly consumers.

As a predominantly Gen Z and Millenial market audience continue to dominate the future of online and high street commerce, business leaders are constantly shifting their values to align with current trends and the sustainable movements that are changing the future of product production and consumption.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that some of the leading giants within the e-commerce industry have made it their mission to go green in 2022. From sustainable packaging to eco-friendly production processes, we have seen our favourite brands embracing a green future. Or have we?

Did you know that over 40% of green claims made by leading brands could be misleading their consumers? As e-commerce giants start to embrace the ‘sustainable movement’ are they doing it for the right reasons, or are they simply looking for a short term shift that’ll provide them with long term profits?

Marketing Post-COP26

A substantial driver for positive sustainable change within the e-commerce industry was COP26, otherwise known as Conference Of The Parties, in 2021.

The 12-day summit that brought world leaders, activists and experts together to discuss the future of climate change and a greener future, got so much engagement from an audience across the globe, that smart marketers decided to gain from its success.

In fact, the hashtag #COP26 alone was engaged with on TikTok a whopping 73 million times, rendering it a topic of interest for both a wide demographic and business leaders who were aiming to increase conversions.

Experts suggest that COP26 is one of the leading factors that has contributed to a sea of green content in the last few months. As brands continue to revolutionise their sustainable strategy, are they going green for the right reasons?

(Image Source: eMarketer)

For example, as you can see here, 36% of business leaders have adopted a sustainable strategy for growth opportunities alone, with a further 20% only on board in order to stay ahead of their competitors.

What is Business Greenwashing?

So has business greenwashing become a new trend amongst the e-commerce industry?

The term was first heard in the headlines after the well-known climate activist, Greta Thunberg raised concerns on Twitter, speaking out against immoral sustainable branding that simply hid unsustainable practices in order to increase consumer engagement and conversions.

Many are making it look as if the fashion industry is starting to take responsibility, by spending fantasy amounts on campaigns where they portray themselves as ‘sustainable’, ‘ethical’, ‘green’, ‘climate neutral’ and ‘fair’,” she said. “This is almost never anything but pure greenwashing. You cannot mass produce fashion or consume ‘sustainably’ as the world is shaped today. That is one of the many reasons why we will need a system change.”

In fact, the term itself is still relatively new, making many consumers still susceptible to greenwashing across a number of platforms. A recent study by GoodHousekeeping found that over 85% of their readers still didn’t know the meaning of Greenwashing and many more could still be playing into its deceptive charm.

Read on to find out how you can spot greenwashing amongst your favourite brands and how to call out the e-commerce industry’s red flags as we move towards a sustainable future of commerce.

The Red Flags To Look Out For

It can be hard to spot greenwashing amongst your favourite brands. As our social feeds continue to promote sustainability and an eco-friendly future, our resident greenwashers fit right in. However, there are a few telltale signs that your eco-friendly retailer might not be all that they seem.

Let’s have a closer look at the red flags to look out for in a sea of green.

False Claims

One of the easiest ways to spot an eco-friendly fibber is to start doing your research. Looking further into a company’s claims can reveal a multitude of sins. If your desired brand fails to be transparent with their production process and cannot demonstrate their sustainable activism, it could be time to look into what they are posting online.

For example, in 2019, Ryanair was at the centre of a false claim scandal, surrounding their use of the phrase ‘Europes Lowest Emissions’ in one of their ad campaigns.

low emission airline

(Image Source: Ryanair)

Without any evidence to support the claim, the aviation business had to take down their ad and rephrase their claim.

A Short Term Shift For Long Term Success

Has your favourite brand become green overnight? Creating a completely sustainable business is a long term process and can take months/years to demonstrate eco-friendly improvement.

Therefore, if your Instagram feed is suddenly filled with their claims of sustainability, it might be time to delve further into what they are saying.

It’s a well-known fact that Gen Z consumers are willing to pay a higher price for sustainability, so it’s no surprise that every e-commerce provider on the block wants to join in.

sustainable business

(Image Source: Statista)

As you can see here, 55% of the global average in 2014 were already more inclined to shop green. Post-pandemic, this number has risen substantially as online shoppers continue to have more choices for eco-friendly alternatives.