What is greenwashing? – By Bamboo Buds


Published March 30, 2022

Environmentalist Jay Westerveld coined the term “greenwashing” in 1986, in a critical essay about the ‘save the towel’ movement in hotels. This movement had nothing to do with helping the environment, far from it, it was simply a way of saving hotels money in laundry costs, but in their attempts to dress it up as a good thing, claimed their motivation was that they cared about the environment.

Save the towel emerged just three years after the internet was invented, was not used by everyone like it is today, and did not have archives of almost limitless information that could be accessed in seconds. This meant practically everyone got their news from newspapers, television and radio, so they couldn’t fact-check the way they could today. The definition of greenwashing is “Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound. Greenwashing is considered an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly. History is littered with big corporations, who have poor environmental credentials, greenwashing and then extensively promoting, either products or elements of their operational activities. One such example was the global chemical company DuPont. Here is an advert they released in 1991 telling the world about its super safe, double-hulled oil tankers, sending out the public message that they had invested heavily in this new tech because they cared so much about the environment, when they were in fact the largest corporate polluter in the USA that year.

In a report entitled “DuPont’s Disgraceful Deeds” the world was made aware that “Du Pont is the single largest corporate polluter in the United States. In 1989, the latest year for which data are available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Du Pont and its subsidiaries reported discharging more than 348 million pounds of pollutants to land, air and water. And Du Pont’s total reported discharge in 1989 was about 10 million pounds greater than in 1988. Du Pont, in fact, produced more chemical pollution in 1989 than Allied-Signal, Ford Motor Co. and Union Carbide combined. Du Pont’s total reported pollution was 14 times that of Dow Chemical, 20 times that of Chrysler and 30 times that of Mobil– all companies that are themselves among the top 100 U.S. polluters.” Given today’s acute focus on catastrophic climate change and the huge amount of pressure that is now heaped on polluters, it’s hardly surprising that those most guilty of environmental damage are the most eager to greenwash as much as they can, to present an environmentally friendly image to the public.

It’s especially understandable why big polluters pay their PR agencies millions to come up with ways to portray what they do in a much better light, when according to GreenPrint’s 2021 Business of Sustainability Index, 64% of Gen X consumers would spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand, and that figure jumps to 75% among millennials. So now we move onto our little corner of the world, bamboo stemmed cotton buds, and how the simple fact they are made of bamboo, rather than paper or plastic is lorded as green credentials, when in fact, it is far from it. Simply using bamboo to make cotton buds is NOT a green credential. For example, China is the global hub of sustainable bamboo production, China is also cheap and has well established export routes to the UK.

However, when we set off on our journey to find a sustainable source of bamboo in China, we soon discovered that a truly sustainable source of FSC accredited bamboo costs 85% more than 100’s of other available choices of the bamboo sticks used to made bamboo cotton buds. This means, when you search online for bamboo cotton buds and find a plastic bag stuffed with 200 of them for a pound, you’re not helping at all by buying them. The most likely source of that bamboo is from a supplier who uses “Slash and Burn Bamboo Cultivation”, which is incredibly bad for the environment. What you should be doing instead is typing “Bamboo Buds” into Google and finding your way to our online shop. Our bamboo is grown just outside Handan in China by two FSC accredited, relatively small independent bamboo growers, who produce their crops exclusively for the HKJ medical instrument company. Our partnership agreement with HKJ guarantees our bamboo comes from these specific sources, which means our bamboo costs almost 85% more than 100’s of bamboo cotton buds sticks currently available in China.

HKJ is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of certified sterile, surgical face masks and since the pandemic started, they have produced more than 3 billion surgical masks for global distribution. They are also one of the world’s largest manufacturers of surgical swabs, which is why we approached them in the first instance. Our organic cotton is grown in, and sourced from, India, which is the global hub of sustainable organic cotton, by HKJ. Manufacture, including the sterilisation process, recycled packaging and environmentally friendly inks used in our unique, registered design, packaging are undertaken by a HKJ partner. The supply chain and manufacturing process is all carbon neutral, and we use UPS, specifically for their carbon natural international shipping credentials, to ship our finished product from China to the UK.

Once in the UK our shipping is done for us by Hermes, who not only have carbon natural credentials, but are the first national UK courier to achieve 100% renewable electricity in their operations and the first to successfully trial electric HGV vehicles. Being able to provide a carbon natural, supply chain and biodegradable product with fully recyclable packing has cost implications and whilst we may not have the cheapest bamboo cotton buds available on the market, we do have an eco-friendly alternative that we are confident is competitively priced and we have no reason whatsoever to greenwash.


Shop now at – https://bamboobuds.com/

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