Promoting your sustainability can lead to a competitive advantage which helps you create a point of difference from your competitors. Talking about sustainability helps your customers, employees and community understand your business values.

If you’re making environmental claims about your products, services, and operations, it’s important to have evidence to avoid risking claims of greenwashing or greenhushing.

What is greenwashing and greenhushing?

  • Greenwashing: Making unsubstantiated or misleading claims about the environmental benefits of a product, service, or company.
  • Greenhushing: Staying silent about genuine sustainability achievements, often because of fear of criticism for not doing enough.

Learn more about greenwashing.

Before you start promoting your sustainable business

It’s important all your sustainability claims are honest and accurate. To make truthful claims, start by:

  • undertaking an assessment of your business across the environmental, cultural and community aspects of sustainability
  • identifying your practices and policies, such as:
    • reducing energy consumption
    • conserving water
    • managing waste
    • respecting culture
    • supporting and working with your community
    • having accessibility options
  • measuring and keeping a record of your sustainability progress
  • having a sustainability action plan.

The principles you should follow

When communicating you should:

  • Avoid using broad and unqualified claims (such as eco-friendly) as they lack clarity around what it means. Ensure that you qualify your claims.
  • Have evidence to back up your claims. Your claims need to be scientific and independently verifiable (where possible). You can track your sustainability progress and use the data to support your promotional activities. If you don’t have evidence to support what you’re saying, consider whether you should be talking about it.
  • Be clear when explaining any condition or qualification on your claims. If claims are true in some circumstances, you must let customers know this.
  • Be transparent about your sustainability transition and ongoing commitments.
  • Avoid using visual elements (pictures, logos, packaging or other imagery). They may give the wrong impression about what your business is doing and the achievements that you have made.
  • Don’t leave out or hide important information. Be open about your sustainability goals, the actions you’re taking and any setbacks that you may have. Don’t be afraid to talk about your learnings along the way.
  • Use clear, simple and easy-to-read language when communicating your sustainability efforts. Not all your customers will have an understanding about sustainability.

Engaging your employees

Your employees need to understand what your business’s sustainability ambitions are and the actions you’re taking to get there. Your staff need to know what their role is in achieving the goal.

Some ways to engage your staff include:

  • Staff training: run a training program to support your staff in understanding what sustainability is and why it is important to your business.
  • Develop a green team: a green team or sustainability team can lead and prioritise sustainable actions, identify risks, and manage certification. Having a green team is a great way of building staff engagement with sustainability, thinking of creative actions and supporting sustainability in your business.

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