Hunter Richards, accounting market analyst at Software Advice, recently wrote an article on greenwashing and how to end it.

Below is a shortened version of his article, to read the full article click here.

Carbon Accounting Transparency: Eliminating Greenwashers

Greenwash (verb, \ˈgrēn-wȯsh\) – to market a product or service by promoting a deceptive or misleading perception of environmental responsibility.

Companies have been launching major ad campaigns to show off green products and services, but many of these campaigns have been shown to deviate from the truth. As a result, consumers are growing more and more suspicious of products branded as eco-friendly. So how can we know who’s telling the truth about their products and who’s just greenwashing? We can increase transparency and put an end to greenwashing through carbon accounting. Carbon accounting would provide a standardized, measurable way to examine a company’s environmental record, making it possible to verify or reject their green claims based on specific criteria.

Scrutiny of green marketing campaigns is not unlike the demand to hold corporations accountable for their financial reporting. The U.S. is still a leader in financial accounting, but we still need to develop the same strength in infrastructure for environmental accounting to restore credibility to green products. Enterprise Carbon Accounting (ECA) software is becoming the foundation of this infrastructure. By making the carbon accounting process much less cumbersome and more manageable than it has been in the past, ECA software is expanding the potential for more widespread adoption of carbon accounting in general. Greenwashers are running out of excuses.

But to fully eliminate the ability to greenwash, we need concrete progress in five main categories:

Clear government action on regulations – like increased coverage of the EPA’s Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule, which requires companies that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of greenhouse gases annually to disclose emissions to the EPA;

Adoption of carbon accounting principles – stricter requirements for disclosure of standardized corporate emissions information, to ensure that each business has a clearly measurable record of environmental impact;

Expansion of Scope 3 emissions accounting – mandatory inclusion of suppliers’ emissions and other indirect sources (Scope 3) in environmental reports to prevent under-reporting of emissions and spread carbon accounting adoption more quickly;

Better green business incentives – using ECA software to identify eco-friendly savings opportunities, potentially making green sincerity cheaper and greenwashing unnecessary;

Demanding, informed consumers – demanding the numbers, while boycotting the greenwashers, forces businesses with green marketing campaigns to prove their sincerity or abandon groundless claims.

To learn more about ECA software and greenwashing prevention, check out Software to Hold “Greenwashers” Accountable.