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How to recognize greenwashing?

How to recognize greenwashing?

**This article has been translated automatically and contains French/Quebec references.**

I'm thumbing up this blog article about us published in 24h.
“There are no zero waste products”: the company Bateau Bateau avoids greenwashing by being transparent

Élizabeth contacted us because she found that despite the clearly eco-responsible aspect of Bateau Bateau, we were not marketing it aggressively. Was it because we were afraid of being singled out, of people calling it greenwashing because we positioned ourselves as eco-responsible or sustainable?

The answer is no, we are not afraid. We just find it pointless to insist on the fact that we offer ecological products, because we know that they are .


It always makes me laugh when the forms ask us that. Um, well we offer reusable products to people... that seems rather important to me as a gesture already! Otherwise, we do hundreds of little things every day along these lines, do I really have to list them all?

Because beyond the products, the Bateau Bateau team is itself eco-friendly at heart , so obviously, the decisions are too!


Regarding our communications and our packaging, yes, we sometimes say that our products are made of organic cotton, natural and non-synthetic fibers, but we do not excessively promote it with an image of a forest on kraft paper (by the way, I don't know if you knew, but kraft paper, most of the time, contains less recycled fibers than white paper!).

As a general rule, we prefer to talk about comfort, softness and ease of use . This is even more important than green facts, because we know very well that people don't want to make sacrifices when we talk to them about “doing their part for the planet”. You might as well tell them that it's gentle, that they won't compromise, that it won't change their habits much and that it will really be better on all levels for them. And BY THE WAY, it’s good for the planet. Win-Win! Because that's what it is! So that’s how we position ourselves.

Brands that need to position themselves as ecological are often brands that have something to prove (or hide). This is intended to reassure the consumer. A bit like H&M, with its green labels and its organic Fast Fashion clothes.. (article by Élizabeth in the 24h)

I'm going to divulge this to you: GREENWASHING!

At the end of the article, we can also read this:

The 7 sins of greenwashing |...| : the hidden compromise, the absence of proof, the imprecision, the misleading label, the impertinence, the lesser evil and the little lie.

Is the company that offers eco-responsible products really transparent and consistent in its actions ? In our opinion, this is the key to avoiding greenwashing.



The lack of evidence and the inaccuracies... it always sows doubt.

The FAQ is a good place to start.

Otherwise, one can ask the company questions directly and see what they answer.

Besides, if a customer asks us where our products are made, I don't like to simply answer “in Quebec”. I like to be ultra-precise:

The fabric of the white and black handkerchiefs is made in China, then cut in Montreal and the handkerchiefs are then interwoven by hand by a local NPO before being put into our sets. We can say that the final manufacturing is done in Quebec.

While the fabric of our cream handkerchiefs and our washable toilet paper rolls are products from Quebec. Our sets are cut, sewn and assembled in Montreal and Laval but the fabrics come from elsewhere. Our packaging is printed here. :)

Same thing when we question the durability of our products:

We have only been testing them since 2017. They have warped a little over time but they are still beautiful, soft and most important: functional! We haven't tested them for 50 years, but we think they can last at least 25 because they don't experience as much stress as a piece of clothing that is worn. We'll have to talk about it again in 20 years, see where it's at!

It seems that not every truth is good to tell, but honestly, I have nothing to hide… so I prefer to be transparent if we are asked the question.

As we can read in the 24h article, I say: “I don't understand that there are companies that are capable of making beautiful graphs to compare disposable and reusable products. They don't have the figures in relation to their impact, in relation to where they take their products, where they obtain their supplies.

In fact, there are generic things that can be calculated (the impact on forests, the quantity of water used on disposables vs. washables (roughly), the money we gain by no longer buying disposables.. ) but apart from doing a life cycle analysis of our product (analysis which costs at least $30k and which we dream of one day paying for), we cannot compare the production and end of life of our articles to us VS disposable items .

I wrote two articles on the subject:
The imprint of our handkerchiefs

More or less eco-friendly?



There is the mission which must be consistent with the values ​​of the company and its leaders.

If a company calls itself eco-responsible, I hope the people behind it are too.

In other words, does the company's management team take actions for the environment on a daily basis in their personal lives? Or she's just complying with the rules for the company because she has to (you have to look good). Is the company really involved, talking about the environment, educating its customers? Or does she just want to take advantage of the wave and so she talks about her products by putting eco-friendly words on them ?

Tsé, if you are the CEO of a company that sells ecological, green, natural laundry detergent and so on and the goal is to make a lot of cash to buy a big house, make 300 trips in private jet per year, and driving a Hummer... I think you've just canceled everything you advocate.

As I said above, the Bateau Bateau team is made up of women who tend towards an eco-friendly lifestyle and who like to talk about solutions, for fun.

We're concerned (a bit like everyone else) about what's happening and that's good, we thought of a fun solution to help people do their part - as soon as they get there! Everyone has their own rhythm.

We understand the challenges of the climate crisis, we inform ourselves and we want to inform. It's important for us to be aware of what's happening, to follow the news about the current climate emergency, and what people are experiencing and feeling about it all. And we like to share information and talk about it in our communications.


Coming back to the title of the article, I still think that zero waste products do not exist .

Besides, I wrote an article about it here: The use of the term zero waste

Yes, humans can move towards a zero waste, minimalist, more eco-friendly lifestyle .

The product is a TOOL to help us on this path. Calling it zero waste is misleading, because we have necessarily created waste in producing it.

I prefer to say that a product is eco-responsible (which, for me, means: manufactured while respecting the environment ). It sounds more accurate.

The fact remains that no matter the words, we always have the impression that companies want to take advantage of the current situation and it is not becoming so easy to detect the nuances of greenwashing! You have to dig a little deeper than words and know the true values ​​of the company.

By M.eve

I enjoy questioning and informing myself, and write! It's through this blog that I take the time to speak to you transparently about my business or share what I learn or observe regarding environmental topics that concern us all.


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