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Shopper sparks conversation online after sharing photo of frustrating drink label: 'Seems to just maintain status quo'

Knowing how to spot greenwashing can help you decide whether you want to support a particular brand.

Knowing how to spot greenwashing can help you decide whether you want to support a particular brand.

Photo Credit: iStock

The math just wasn't mathing for one astounded shopper whose drink came wrapped in unnecessary plastic, and they didn't hesitate to call out the "unadulterated greenwashing." 

What happened? 

In the subreddit r/mildlyinfuriating, the shopper shared a photo of their coconut water, which was packaged in an aluminum can and encased in a thin layer of plastic.

Knowing how to spot greenwashing can help you decide whether you want to support a particular brand.
Photo Credit: Reddit

"This product is plastic neutral!" the label of the H2coco reads, claiming that buying the water will help the environment. "The equivalent amount of plastic used in this packaging will be prevented from entering our oceans." 

"Using terms like 'plastic neutral' like that means anything," the Redditor pointed out. "What's wrong with printing directly on the can like everyone else?"

"The more plastic they put on this can, the more plastic you can keep out of the ocean! And all you have to do is buy their product!," one commenter said sarcastically. 

"I assume it's "neutral" because they (pay for) recover the same amount of plastic from the ocean," commented another. "Which seems to just maintain status quo and not keep this plastic from getting into the ocean, but is better than doing nothing to compensate I guess?"

Why is the plastic packaging concerning?

Unlike aluminum, plastic can't be recycled indefinitely. It also takes energy to produce. This raises questions about the product's eco-friendly claims. 

Keeping plastic out of our oceans is an admirable goal, though. In fact, researchers at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology found that our warming planet and plastic pollution are "trapped in a 'vicious circle' where one feeds the other."

Additionally, the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts notes that "the equivalent of a garbage truck full of plastic" is dumped into the waters every single minute. 

That shocking amount of waste is mostly made from dirty energy like motor oil and gasoline — not something most people want contaminating their seafood dinners. Plastic pollution also often traps, injures, and kills marine creatures.

Why would H2coco package its products this way?

H2coco did not respond to The Cool Down's email request for comment on the packaging and concerns surrounding it and the marketing of the product. 

One Redditor thought the company might just be using confusing language. 

"I could be wrong here, but aren't they saying that the plastic on the thing is natural as well, as in biodegradable?" they asked

However, according to the company's website, not all of its products are in biodegradable packaging. H2coco hoped to have recycled or biodegradable materials for all items by 2023, but there's no word on whether it has been able to implement those aims. 

In its 2023 impact report, the company says its partnership with PlasticBank helped it remove 17 million single-use plastic bottles from the oceans, but it's unclear if those bottles are repurposed for the plastic wrapping. 

"We source natural products from suppliers who implement sustainable environmental practices and provide employees with safe and healthy working conditions," the company also states

What can I do to reduce plastic waste? 

H2coco isn't the only brand that is wrapping its products in seemingly unneeded plastic — and appearing not to live up to its eco-friendly claims. 

Knowing how to spot greenwashing and learning about critical climate issues can help you decide whether you want to support a particular brand

Happily, there are also a lot of known plastic-free alternatives for everyday products, like shampoo bars, metal razors, and silicone food containers

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