How to spot and avoid companies guilty of greenwashing

People’s appetite for sustainability and corporate responsibility is at an all-time high. As consumers, work professionals, and job seekers, we expect – and increasingly demand – that companies demonstrate a solid commitment to making the world a better, greener, healthier place. We demand that they back up their promises and claims with concrete actions. And, in case of doubt, we’ll simply check up on their green credentials ourselves. 


If this is unfamiliar territory to you, don’t worry. Today we share all the tips and tricks on how to spot and avoid companies that are guilty of greenwashing in your job search and purchasing decisions. But before we get started, let’s take a moment to define greenwashing.


What does greenwashing mean?

Greenwashing refers to the practice of making businesses (or their products and services) sound more environmentally friendly than they really are. In other words, it’s about companies exaggerating or deliberately misleading people as to their sustainability commitments and actions.


How can you spot greenwashing?

There are a few red flags to look out for, as listed below.

  1. Vague, lofty claims about being eco-friendly or committing to net carbon zero that isn’t backed up with concrete examples of supportive actions or policies should set alarm bells ringing. When companies are serious about creating a more sustainable future, they proudly showcase their green accomplishments and actions – as well as their short, medium, and long-term sustainability targets – at every opportunity.


So if you don’t see evidence of sustainable actions or measurable green goals on companies’ marketing communications – including their job descriptions and the careers sections of their websites – be suspicious. Very.

  1. Tokenism should also send job seekers and customers running for the hills. Some companies make much of the installation of a few recycling bins or a switch to LED lights. That’s all very well – and every little count – but if a company’s green actions stop there, you should question its commitment to sustainability.
  2. Lack of third-party certification – such as LEED or B Corp – can also be a warning sign. Certifications require companies to meet strict environmental and social standards. If a company is committed to sustainability, it will go the extra mile to secure such accreditation. But if its claims are spurious, then such certification is clearly out of bounds. Be warned!


What to do when you suspect a company of greenwashing

If you’re certain that a company is guilty of greenwashing, you should promptly bow out of the recruitment or purchasing process. You can flag it up to The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) or even take it up with your local MP.


If you’re anything short of convinced, however, further investigation is required. Ethical Consumer Magazine is a good place to check out a company’s sustainability credentials. You can also research comments on social media (practicing discernment!) or contact the company’s HR department for clarification. Be careful not to be confrontational in your approach as it may turn out that perceived deliberate omissions or vagueries are just a case of poor marketing!


To explore the topic further, please read a fascinating article on Eco Watch.


If you’d like to fast-track your search for your next job and benefit from our in-depth knowledge of all the companies we cover, please get in touch. Our recruitment experts will connect you with great-fit opportunities and give you the inside track on all aspects of the role – including the mission, values, and sustainability actions behind the brand – to ensure it ticks all the boxes. Please contact us at or on 020 7092 3911 today!