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Branding expert shows how easily companies can fool customers with greenwashing: 'This is why you should always read labels'

"Don't trust the front of the package."

The tricks companies use for greenwashing

Photo Credit: @maggieroseadvocate / Tiktok

In a viral video, TikToker Maggie (@maggieroseadvocate) creates a duet video with TikToker Matt (@mattrosenman) that demonstrates just how easy it is to make a notoriously unhealthy product like Coca-Cola sound like it's good for you. 

During the clip, Matt creates a fake, rebranded version of Coca-Cola, and by changing just a few details like the name, the design of the can, and featured ingredient information, he makes the ultra-sugary soda sound like a natural energy drink.

@maggieroseadvocate #duet with @mattrosenman this is exactly how companies greenwash their products. It's all in the marketing! #greenwashing #consumerawareness ♬ original sound - Matt Rosenman

"I'm gonna change up the colors from the normal Coke colors that we're used to, and I'm gonna call this product 'Thrive Sparkling Cola,'" Matt explains. "Sparking Cola makes it sound a little bit fancier, and Thrive doesn't need to mean anything — it just needs to feel a little bit healthy and light."

Matt goes on to make the can orange — a color that people associate with energy and happiness — and add arbitrary information to the front like "gluten-free" and "low-sodium." The resulting product is unrecognizable as Coca-Cola and could easily be perceived as a healthy beverage.

In Matt's video, the goal is to make an unhealthy drink sound healthy, but many companies use similar manipulation tactics to make their dirty energy corporation sound like it's good for the planet. 

It's a process called "greenwashing," which Investopedia defines as "making an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company's products are environmentally friendly or have a greater positive environmental impact than they actually do."

Some of the biggest companies in the world have been caught greenwashing. According to Earth.org, Starbucks, Nestle, and Ikea — to name a few — have participated in some shady PR stunts and practices that trick consumers into thinking their products are better for the planet than they actually are.

And, with Businesswire reporting that 85% of consumers are making more environmentally-friendly purchases, it's easy to see why companies would participate in greenwashing. People put their dollars into what they believe are "green" companies. However, it doesn't make greenwashing OK.

Thankfully, other TikTok users shared tips for catching common greenwashing practices. 

"Don't trust the front of the package, read the ingredients!!!" one TikToker commented.

"This is why you should always read labels," another agreed.

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