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Are you guilty of personal greenwashing?

Business investments and personal greenwashing

The uproar in the press this week regarding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the gas spewing jumbo jet they took back to LA, has got us thinking more broadly about personal greenwashing. Harry and Meghan have been accused of enormous hypocrisy after flying back from the platinum jubilee in a 13-passenger private jet. Climate experts believe the journey will have resulted in ten times more carbon being emitted than if they had taken a commercial flight. According to Paramount Business Jets, the flight would have emitted nearly 60 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The jet itself was enough to cause upset with the public amidst the current climate concerns, but what makes matters more pressing is the greenwashing that the couple have previously carried out with various statements on TV and ‘green’ business investments.

The Duke of Sussex previously described climate change as one of the ‘most pressing issues we are facing’ and told Oprah Winfrey during the couple’s interview last year: ‘we need to do better about stopping or allowing the things that are causing so much harm to so many of us at the source, rather than being distracted by the symptom.’ The plot thickens as earlier this year, Harry and Meghan launched new eco-travel project which would see holidaymakers ‘rated’ on their green credentials. A snippet from their website reads: ‘travalyst is a non-profit organisation working to identify – and help bring about – the systemic changes needed in order for sustainable travel to be taken out of the niche, and into the mainstream.’

The hypocrisy of greenwashing

What is the cause of this behaviour that looks strangely like personal greenwashing? And how detrimental is it to our sustainability progress? Progress seems severely torn when even those who profess to have green consciences take part in private jets and 4×4’s alongside green investment and all-natural laundry detergent. Is it an issue of lack of education on the matter or do people who say they care, not actually care enough? I’d like to think that personal greenwashing is less of self-delusion, as it’s hard to believe that one could be lacking in education on the climate crisis when it is so widely spoken of these days. Do the small actions of sustainability amongst individuals act as a defence mechanism to the anxiety surrounding our responsibility of the climate crisis? Although it’s seemingly not meaningful to care about your recycling whilst driving round in a Range Rover, it’s not meaningless. Whilst not trying to put value on the hypocrisy of greenwashing, success begins by taking your first step forward. The worry is whether these first steps are enough to reverse the damage that has already been done.

Truth and transparency

Although one may never understand the need to fly in a private jet, life has to go on as normal sometimes. As much as it probably would save the planet to live in a straw hut, living off fruit from the trees and never leaving your own vicinity, it’s not realistic. The key to sustainability is breaking actions down into small manageable chunks and for example, not to let the impact of your air miles on your carbon footprint, put you off all your other efforts. There does need to be greater regulation on greenwashing so that sustainability efforts are transparent and truthful. We’re hoping that with our software, carbon accounting will be much easier, clearer, and tighter regulated. Your own sustainability goals can be broken down into achievable actions, so that sustainability efforts can continue in manageable ways, without the distraction of others untrustworthy claims.

At eco-shaper, we drive action on climate change and streamline carbon footprinting. For example, we can help calculate emissions across the entire ecosystem that companies work across and produce automated reporting based on outcomes. It’s like Xero, for sustainability. Contact us to be part of our research group on

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