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Greenwashing cases in India, and how can we be more aware?

Greenwashing refers to the practice of making false or exaggerated claims about a product's environmental benefits or sustainability

By Florence Das
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greenwashing in india

Greenwashing cases in India | Greenwashing refers to the practice of making false or exaggerated claims about a product's environmental benefits or sustainability to attract consumers. It is a marketing strategy used by companies to appeal to the growing market demand for eco-friendly products. However, these claims often mislead consumers into thinking that they are buying products that are better for the environment than they are.

In recent years, the term 'greenwashing' has gained popularity as a marketing strategy. These strategies are adopted by companies to portray their products or services as 'environmentally friendly', even if they are not. Greenwashing can take many forms, such as using ambiguous or meaningless terms, displaying fake certifications, or using misleading images or language. For example, a company may claim that its product is "100% natural" or "chemical-free" when, in reality, it is not entirely true. 

Unfortunately, greenwashing is widespread in India, and consumers need to be aware of this issue. In this article, we will discuss the concept of conscious consumerism and green labels in India. Furthermore, the rules and laws against greenwashing in India, and examples of companies that have indulged in greenwashing.

Conscious Consumerism and Green Labels in India

Conscious consumerism refers to the practice of purchasing products and services that have a positive social, economic, and environmental impact. Consumers in India are increasingly looking for products that have green labels, as they believe that these labels represent eco-friendliness and sustainability. Green labels are certifications given to products that meet certain environmental standards set by independent organizations. These labels are aimed at helping consumers make informed decisions about the products they purchase.

In India, the government has taken some steps to regulate greenwashing through various rules and laws. The Indian government's Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has implemented a Green Product Certification Scheme (GPCS) to ensure that products marketed as eco-friendly meet certain environmental standards. Under this scheme, a product can be certified as green only if it meets specific criteria set by the BIS.

There are several green labels in India, such as the Energy Star label, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency label, the EcoMark label, and the Forest Stewardship Council label, among others. These labels are given to products that meet certain criteria, such as energy efficiency, water conservation, and sustainable sourcing of raw materials. Apart from this, India's advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), has also developed guidelines for advertising eco-friendly products. These guidelines state that companies must provide scientific evidence to support any environmental claims they make in their advertisements.

Rules and Laws Against Greenwashing in India

In India, greenwashing is considered an unfair trade practice and is regulated by the Consumer Protection Act, of 2019, and the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). The Consumer Protection Act, of 2019, prohibits false and misleading claims about the environmental benefits of a product or service. The ASCI is a self-regulatory body that monitors advertising and has set up guidelines for green advertising. These guidelines state that green advertising should be truthful, accurate, and not exaggerated.

Companies that have Indulged in Greenwashing

Despite regulations in place, numerous companies in India persist in engaging in greenwashing practices. For instance, in 2019, the Indian division of a multinational corporation was penalized for deceiving customers by asserting that its packaged drinking water was environmentally friendly. Similarly, the air conditioning industry maintains that its products are eco-friendly and energy-efficient. But, research has exposed these claims as misleading. These products fail to meet the energy efficiency criteria stipulated by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency.

Another example is the fast-fashion industry, which asserts that its goods are sustainable and crafted from eco-friendly materials. However, fast fashion is one of the most ecologically harmful industries globally, and its products are produced from materials that have a significant environmental impact. H&M, a fast fashion brand, has been accused of greenwashing in India due to its claims of sustainability and eco-friendliness. Despite their marketing campaign promoting recycling and conscious fashion, H&M has been criticized for their mass production practices. The mass-production contributes to the fashion industry's high carbon footprint and waste generation. 

Furthermore, a popular Indian detergent brand claimed that its product was "100% natural" and "completely safe for the environment". But, the investigations revealed that the detergent contained synthetic ingredients and chemicals that were detrimental to the environment.


In conclusion, conscious consumerism is an important practice that can help promote sustainability and environmental protection. However, consumers need to be aware of greenwashing. Furthermore, they should not rely solely on green labels to make purchasing decisions. It is essential to do research, ask questions, and verify claims before purchasing products that claim to be environmentally friendly. Moreover, the government needs to take stricter action against companies that indulge in greenwashing, as this practice is not only harmful to the environment but also to consumers who may be misled into making unsustainable choices.

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