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  • Dan Moskovitz

Environmentally Conscious Large-Scale Profit? Consumer NZ Investigates Oxymoron

DAN MOSKOVITZ (he/him)


Consumer NZ is establishing which corporations are frequently lying to consumers by exaggerating their eco-friendly credentials, and holding them to account. You (yes, you!) can help. 


Kiwis from across the country are encouraged to send examples of potential greenwashing to Consumer NZ, who will examine whether said claims are true on your behalf. 


Greenwashing is where a product is made to appear more environmentally friendly than it is. This can take many forms; misuse of the words “green” and “eco", packaging which looks more sustainable than it is, and much more. 


“What we’ve seen in Australia, the UK, and the EU is that 40-50% of sustainable claims were found either unsubstantiated or misleading,” says Gemma Rasmussen, Consumer NZ’s head of advocacy and research. 


As Rasmussen explains, people will pay a premium for sustainable products. Yet actually discerning between what’s eco-friendly and not is nigh impossible. According to Consumer NZ, while 44% of Kiwis will switch to a greener brand to be more sustainable, 47% of Kiwis cannot tell whether a product’s green claims are truthful or not, and three-quarters of us have never checked. 


Misleading consumers is illegal, but the Commerce Commission is reliant on citizens reporting companies who break the rules.

 

With the government uninterested and the Commerce Commission toothless, Consumer NZ took matters into its own hands.


“Our investigators will spend hours trying to unpick sustainable claims,” says Rasmussen. “They’ll look at what’s on the product, check the website, and try to touch base with the producer. It takes a lot of time. So for any person trying to figure out what's genuinely environmentally friendly is really difficult.” 


You can report potential greenwashing to Consumer NZ on their website. 


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