Imposter Greenwashing Syndrome

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Have You Been A Victim Of Greenwashing?

We live in an age where researching a brand takes place in the palm of our hands, but we are also overwhelmed with facts and climate crises on the very same screen. It is hard to switch off and stay present when all forms of media continue to remind us of international disputes, continual climate erosion, and the overwhelming trigger of fear. To forge forward and continue the valiant task of contributing to climate-positive actions, consumers have to perform diligent research which at times feels murky and tedious. 

The next time you catch yourself scrolling and longing to do more for the environment, don’t become blinded by the flash of buzzwords on the screen or grand corporate gestures and promises. Look beyond the words and diagnose the truth.

What Is Imposter Greenwashing Syndrome?

Imposter Greenwashing Syndrome first made headlines in a 1986 essay by environmentalist Jay Westerveld. He was staying in several chain hotels and noticed a trend of asking guests to reuse their towels. The now infamous “towel policy” struck Westerveld as ironic considering the same hotel was also expanding the property and destroying the natural landscape. Westerveld felt appalled at the implication that guests were the issue and could proactively contribute to alleviating guilt while sleeping soundly next to viscous property development. His essay was the first time corporate conglomerates had been called out for such actions, and the terminology has continued to do so today.

Imposter Greenwashing Syndrome is used today to call out brands failing to be transparent about their “green initiatives.” From clean coal to non-recyclable paper straws, you shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to contribute to a climate-positive initiative. 

The Greenwashing Cycle

For years, the belief that all we need to do is follow the 3Rs of Reduce Reuse Recycle has alleviated guilt and concern over not doing enough to help the earth heal. Now, with a carbon emissions deadline of 2030 quickly approaching, society is scrambling for a quick fix. Handprint has arrived in time to highlight the ease of climate-positive actions including what can be done today and continued tomorrow for a brighter future. 

Shifting From Reduce Reuse Recycle To Reserve Restore Rewild

The 3Rs became the gatekeepers for companies and civilians to perform small actions with long-term implied payoffs. One of the many problems with this methodology is that specific industries that handle extraction and conversion of natural resources, like mining or textile and chemical manufacturing have little power to reduce or decrease their harmful systems. 

There shouldn’t be a binary when it comes to making a decision that impacts our global planetary health. When we focus on reducing negative externalities, we disregard 75% of the working population. With one click or phone call, we can help local communities lobby for the protection of natural reserves, while also volunteering with dedicated Impact projects to restore natural habitats and travel consciously to places that help with rewilding animals or ecosystems.

Regardless of industry, profession, or place in society, sustainability for a regenerative economy needs to be accessible. 

Inclusive and Transparent Leadership Initiatives

Handprint wants to lead more managers and heads of organization to grasp easy initiatives and guide their teams into a sustainable future. At Handprint, we believe that this takes the form of six critical shifts, but for Imposter Greenwashing Syndrome, we will specifically highlight the shift from Exclusion to Inclusion and From CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) to Climate Justice. 

With Climate Justice, we need to delegate the overwhelming 90% of GHG emissions from North America, even though the continent is only home to 20% of the global population. Instead of organizing backyard initiatives, look abroad and partner with platforms working in Africa, South East Asia, and South and Central America. Choosing to actively support initiatives that collectively move trillions of dollars into conservation projects. 

Where To Find Cases Of Imposter Greenwashing Syndrome Today

Cases of Imposter Greenwashing happening can’t be found dominating headlines but are occurring constantly. There have been several massive controversies over labeling packaging green or eco-friendly only to have it refuted. Companies including Coca-Cola, Nespresso, and Mcdonald’s have all been in the spotlight after consumers found out the truth behind the ad campaigns. 

Final Thoughts: Imposter Greenwashing Syndrome 

From a consumer perspective, Greenwashing damages the trust built by a brand. It feels deceptive and makes you question the company’s ethics and where your money is being spent. 

We have seen in recent years a shift in audience wanting to know a brand’s ethos and where they stand on ESG reporting. Each individual on and offline is constantly learning and evolving to understand actions they can take toward a climate-positive goal. Here are Handprints’ tips you can use to avoid imposter greenwashing syndrome:

Tips To Avoid Greenwashing 

  1. Brand messaging is confusing and unclear: Brands that are transparent and dedicated to regeneration will use clear language and provide examples of their work. Brands that actively pursue sustainability and regeneration want to highlight their achievements. If you are going in circles or feeling confused, that’s a red flag.
  2. Follow the data: Initiatives, achievements, and impact projects are all backed up with data that a brand should be highlighting. With no data, there is a high probability engagement or ESG reporting is not a high priority.
  3. Read reviews: It never hurts to get a second opinion. All brands create a social platform to put them in the spotlight, but what unbiased reviewers say about them is what counts. 

The Handprint Philosophy To Avoid Greenwashing Syndrome

Handprint SaaS provides the digital infrastructure to power the regenerative economy on a platform for on-demand regeneration that is transparent, science-based and automated. 

Handprint doesn’t partner with everyone, and all of our impact projects are thoroughly vetted by an impact board. When our clients choose to work with Handprint, they step into a regenerative future and believe in impact. We show our clients how aligning with an impact project builds brand loyalty and therefore increases your bottom line. 

Work with Handprint today and find an impact project that will build your consumer loyalty and embrace how easy it is to live in a climate-positive mindset. 

See More:

Why Handprint?

Our impact

Become a sustainable e-commerce brand

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