Greenhushing, when sustainability is hidden

Greenhushing, if the virtuous hide

The paradox of sustainability is the fear of being accused of greenwashing. That’s right: so strong has become the priority of sustainability that there are companies that are really sustainable but they fear to declare it officially because they are afraid of being accused of a facade environmentalism. Thus incurring in its opposite: greenhushing.

Greenhushing is the choice to hide what should be a strong point fearing to risk sanctions or to stimulate consumer distrust.

And to think that with the growing awareness of consumers, who become more demanding every day, the company that claims to be sustainable gains interesting market shares and increases the loyalty of its customers: a transparent and authentic communication always pays.

It is also true that consumers have more than one misgivings, given that some cases of façade sustainability have been exposed.

The Up2You Insight research center, which accompanies companies on decarbonisation pathways, has produced a study with staggering results.

In the fear of clashing with the mistrust of consumers and therefore decrease sales or, even worse, be accused of greenwashing, sustainable companies communicate their virtues in a limited way or do not communicate it at all.

Read also Independent taxonomy regulation lands in Brussels, against greenwashing

On closer inspection, this is also a lack of transparency that has an impact on the market and society, because it does not bring out the many healthy and truly sustainable companies.

The negative effects of silence

Indeed, according to Up2You Insight, greenhushing makes it more difficult to fully monitor market sustainability, both in terms of production and consumption.

It is not possible to compare the sustainability of companies, which could induce the most “weak” to follow the example of the most convinced and then increase the volume of green companies.

Also the positioning on the market suffers: consumers attentive to sustainability prefer to buy from companies definitely green.

Up2You Insight analyzed consumer expectations: 50% think it is the individual who makes the difference in the fight against climate change, 80% expect companies to change becoming more sustainable, 60% suspect companies of doing greenwashing, as they relate exclusively to profit.

The lack of trust is not true. According to the Global Sustainable Investment Review 2020, in the period 2018-2020 the investment of companies in sustainability grew by 15% (35,300 billion dollars worldwide).

Yet, according to the Global Strategic Insights 2022 report, only 19% of buyers of consumer products know with certainty what a brand is concretely committed to sustainability.

What’s the way out? Transparent communication, certification of sustainability projects, provide accurate data and documented concrete examples, show clarity of strategies and plans.

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