Real Purpose or Greenwashing?

Catch Up Video View Session

Peter Gilheany – Director, Forster Comms

Maria Chenoweth – Chief Executive, TRAID

Alex Beasley – UK’s Country Manager, Patagonia


  • Climate Emergency
  • Future

The corporate practice of making sustainability claims to cover a questionable environmental record has become something of a marketing art form perfected over generations. 

In 2020, the Competition and Markets Authority announced that too many businesses were “falsely taking credit for being green” in order to woo environmentally minded consumers with recent analysis of websites found that 40% of green claims made online could be misleading.

Purpose” and “Net Zero” are the new marketing buzzword – but how far can businesses really get using campaigns, language and imagery of worthy causes without backing up this rhetoric with real action?

 Too many corporations are making Net Zero promises that do not cover the whole of their emissions and all those created by its suppliers as well as emissions from consumers using its brands.

Small acts of sustainable, regenerative and responsible practice are publicised as revolutionary progress. 

This state of affairs threatened to undermine the concept of Net Zero and entrench workers in exploitative working conditions.

 Consumers now call out cynical marketing with sectors including fashion, transport, the beauty industry and food and drink facing increasing scrutiny.

 What happens when marketing communications don’t match corporate practice?

What is the best way for businesses to communicate their green credentials, while reducing the risk of misleading customers? 

When is it OK for brands to publicly promote their good deeds?


The Good Business Festival is passionately non-exclusive. It’s not about what you do or who you know. It’s not about agreeing on everything all of the time. It’s about everyone working towards a better world – no matter where you’re starting from.

Join the movement