Recognise a Greenwashing Example on Your Next Trip
Environmental Issues

Recognise a Greenwashing Example
on Your Next Trip

Greenwashing is a term that has been thrown around since the 80s across multiple industries including tourism, but what is it exactly? It’s the name given to the practice of claiming something is sustainable, when in fact, it isn’t. A common greenwashing example could be a company offering eco-friendly tours or green washing products which are not actually sustainable. Or perhaps a hotel is asking guests to recycle, but don’t take responsibility for their large scale environmental damage. All of these practices are to make a sale or give the impression that they care for the environment – even if they don’t.

What is happening with greenwashing in recent times?

With each greenwashing example we see similarities in trends of hotels and hospitality businesses that are trying to keep up with the public demand for sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. The general public want to have trust that the properties and activities they spend money on, are going toward the greater benefit of the environment, but many people don’t actually know the true meaning of greenwashing. The majority of travellers are unfamiliar with the different green washing products and services right in front of them since they don’t know what to look for.

How can you avoid falling prey to greenwashing?

In order to avoid falling for a greenwashing example on your next trip, it helps to be aware of what to look out for. Below are three instances of high-profile examples.

Protecting the reef

An Australian campaign led by Scott Morrison to preserve the famous Great Barrier Reef, led the public to believe they were doing a great deal of conservation. However the truth was that the political party was using the Great Barrier Reef to greenwash their heavy investments in the fossil fuel sector. Greenpeace decided to create a petition to support the protection of the Barrier Reef that you can sign here.

Airlines using biofuels

Air travel is one of the leading causes of carbon emissions so it sounds fantastic when an airline announces they’re using biofuels. Except that many of these cases were found to actually mix the biofuels with traditional jet fuel which was still being used at an extremely high rate. This greenwashing example came from Dutch Airline KLM in 2022 who were subsequently sued for their deceptive marketing campaigns.

Towel Reuse Programs

If you’ve ever stayed at a hotel you might be familiar with towel reuse programs where your accommodation insists that everyone can collectively help the environment by reusing your towels instead of washing them after each use. This is a primary greenwashing example (one where Jay Westerveld coined the term to begin with at the Beachcomer Resort in Fiji) because it sounds like a great, sustainable practice on the surface, however that resort didn’t take into consideration the damage they were doing to the environment in other ways with their huge construction projects building more villas for the property at the same time. They instead just use these green washing products and tactics to give the illusion of sustainability.

If you’re ever curious to know how a company is eco-friendly, ask them to provide at least one example for your peace of mind. If they’re unable to show you some hard evidence of their green practices, then it’s likely that they’re just greenwashing you to make a sale. Unfortunately without more people understanding the meaning of greenwashing, this will continue to happen. It’s a common incident across the industry, but there are still plenty of legitimate eco-friendly businesses around for you to find. 

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