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What Gen Z Thinks About Greenwashing

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

Generation Z cares about the environment–and it's no secret. As one of the first generations that will feel the first-hand effects of climate change, we are well-educated and aware of the crisis at hand. Similarly, we know what actions must be taken towards a more sustainable future, even when our governments and leaders do not.

Many brands and companies have caught on to Generation Z's passion for social justice and climate action and integrated it into their marketing strategies. To appeal to a new consumer base, they use our devotion to social change as a means to market their products and services. Some companies have improved their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) policies by taking pledges to promise more eco-friendly and smart business practices. Others improve supply chain measures, team up with non-profits, or even begin repurposing old materials to create their products, such as turning plastic bottles into pens.

Harvard Business Review has found that “products marketed as sustainable grew 5.6 times faster than those that were not." Sustainability is the latest trend in marketing a business, and Generation Z is here for it!

As great as this all sounds, not all companies are putting in the work to earn Generation Z’s support. After all, it is much easier to sell water bottles with a picture of Earth plastered over them than it is to reinvent an entire business approach altogether. However, it is probably a worthy investment for many companies to reconsider. Business Insider reports Generation Z’s spending power to be roughly $143 billion as of 2020. Millennials and Generation Z are no longer the future, we are the present. This means having our support is crucial to any business that wants to succeed.

Gaining our support is quite simple: put the planet before profit. When sustainability became the latest trend for consumers, Greenwashing became the trend for many companies. Rather than committing to making their products environmentally friendly, many companies choose to take the route of greenwashing.

Greenwashing is defined as the process of marketing misleading information about how a product is environmentally friendly.

When companies use greenwashing techniques, they not only make zero positive impact on the environment but also deceive consumers. If there’s anything Gen Z dislikes more than the thought of an uninhabitable future or lack thereof, it’s being lied to. As a generation, we value honesty and integrity. We would much rather hear bad news and take action than being lied to. Gen Z will support businesses that are transparent and try their best, much rather than those accepting the severity of climate change but not taking legitimate steps to stop it.

Rather than changing a logo to suddenly showcase something eco-friendly, companies should attempt to use profits to mitigate climate crises and donate to movements that are trying to improve our planet. Instead of advertising and creating a product with recyclable packaging, make a switch to reusable materials. But rather than commending Generation Z for their "passion for the environment," listen to what we are saying, and use your power to take action.

Your greenwashing may have fooled some, but Generation Z can see right through you. We want the truth and transparency, not lies and empty promises. If you truly want to win over the minds of the nearly $143 billion Gen Z has in spending power, then stop wasting your time on marketing, and focus on sustainability. I promise that once you take action and change, you will have my generation's full support. If there’s anything Generation Z loves more than the environment, its businesses that treat our planet well.

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