Help stop greenwashing in Aotearoa

We need your help to call out dodgy 'green’ claims.

Send us your examples of greenwashing

Send us examples of greenwashing in New Zealand

Green-what? Greenwashing is sneaky marketing that makes you think something is “green” or more environmentally friendly than it really is. And some businesses are cashing in on these loose environmental claims. We need your help to call them out.  

Whether it’s in a store, online, or on radio or TV, help us find big, bad examples of suspicious green claims. We’ll investigate and publicise our findings in the fight to hold businesses to account.  

Send your examples

Greenwashing might sound clean, but it’s a dirty practice.  

Nearly half of New Zealand shoppers keep sustainability in mind when spending their money. People are worried about climate change and want to do their part for the planet’s well-being. Many will pay a premium for it, too. But what if that earthy-toned packaging or those environmentally friendly words are actually meaningless? 

We assessed the claims on supermarket products and found plenty of misleading and unsubstantiated “green’” claims that businesses couldn’t back up.  

In New Zealand, there are no specific rules preventing businesses from making misleading green claims – only guidelines. The problem is that some businesses ignore these guidelines in favour of reaping environmental brownie points with their customers through their marketing.  

It doesn’t matter whether it’s intentional, lazy or a genuine misunderstanding. New Zealanders are being misled, and we need your help to stop it.  

Our fight against greenwashing so far

Greenwashing can be obvious, but often, it’s subtle and understated, making it difficult to spot and even harder for everyday folk to verify.  

Check out some of our greenwashing work so far – made possible by your support.  

We’re behind the times

Regulators in the EU, UK and Australia have already investigated greenwashing in industries including clothing, cosmetics and food and beverages, finding 40–50% of claims to be misleading. As a result, new laws are coming into effect overseas to stamp out overzealous green claims.  

In New Zealand, the Commerce Commission can issue warnings to companies if they mislead consumers or can’t back up their claims, but that relies on shoppers working out what claims are dodgy and reporting them.  

It shouldn’t be up to consumers to keep companies honest. In the meantime, greenwashing is hitting the planet – and your wallet – where it hurts. 

Help us tackle greenwashing in Aotearoa

We’ll investigate the big, the bad and not-so-green examples of greenwashing in Aotearoa, verify their claims, and call out the misleading ones.  

Send us your examples

How to spot greenwashing

Identifying greenwashing is no easy feat. These are the most common misleading green claims to look out for.

It looks eco-friendly

Maybe it's the brown cardboard or the images of nature on the packaging that gives the impression of being green, but it's just smoke and mirrors.

Certain logos, like a curling leaf, or an earth symbol can be especially misleading. It may suggest a product has been checked for green credentials by an independent third party, when it hasn’t.

Sustainable but single use

Just because a product has one sustainable feature, such as a singlet made with a percentage of 'better cotton', it doesn't necessarily make the entire garment environmentally friendly.

For instance, a rubbish bag may be constructed from 50% recycled plastic, but it can still only be used once and most likely end up in a landfill.

Meaningless terms

Green, natural, environmentally friendly, eco and sustainable are all terms that create the impression of great environmental performance but usually mean nothing.  

For example, the term 'biodegradable'. Everything biodegrades, eventually. Unless these claims have independent third-party testing to back them up, they’re worthless.

Pointless ‘free-from’ claims

Your dishwasher detergent may boast it's 'phosphate-free’, but dishwasher detergents no longer contain phosphates, so the product is claiming to be more virtuous than it is.