Consumer NZ seeks public support in battle against greenwashing

(Source: Bigstock)

Consumer NZ is calling for support from Kiwis in its efforts to tackle greenwashing in the country.

Gemma Rasmussen, head of advocacy and research at Consumer, said greenwashing tactics are often subtle, understated, and difficult to spot. Even if people come across a green claim they believe to be false, it is also difficult to report.

To cope with this issue, the organisation has provided a form on its website for shoppers to tip off businesses’ environmental claims that are likely to be misleading.

“It might be in a store, online, or a questionable ad on radio or TV,” Consumer stated. “We’ll investigate the best examples, verify the claims, and share our findings in a quest to put an end to greenwashing.”

Consumer describes greenwashing as “sneaky marketing” that makes people think something is more environmentally friendly than it really is.

In its latest research, 47 per cent of New Zealanders find it difficult to tell the truthfulness of a product’s green claims, and three-quarters have never checked the accuracy of such claims.

While the Commerce Commission can fine manufacturers or businesses if they mislead consumers, Consumer said this approach relies on shoppers working out who are making dodgy claims, and then reporting them.

“Whether it’s intentional, lazy or a genuine misunderstanding by the business, it doesn’t matter. New Zealanders are being misled, and we need your help to do something about it,” the organisation said.

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