Keep Me Informed

Keep up to date with STEAMhouse news and developments

Sign up to the mailing list.

By submitting this form you agree to Birmingham City University contacting you about STEAMhouse and handling your information as outlined in our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.


Get your tool and start collaborating today!

Download straight to your inbox.

Sign me up to the mailing list

By submitting this form you agree to Birmingham City University contacting you about STEAMhouse and handling your information as outlined in our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.

You've got it!

You've recieved an email!

Please check you inbox for the email containing your chosen tool. If you can't see it, try checking your spam folder, just incase.

We're always keen to hear your stories about how our tools and methods have inspired new ideas, sparked your creativity, or helped you develop new products and services. feel free to share your experiences on socials or send us a message at

Imagine you’re looking to create a brand new product – something that could revolutionise the industry you work in.

Now imagine if that product’s creation or use is going to produce a lot of not-so-great chemicals into the world. You know it’s not going to sell as well, so you make some changes to make it a bit more environmentally friendly. However, it’s still not as good as it could be.

You’re one week from launch and you need to get your marketing tagline signed off – you need something to draw in your target audience, so decide to say “made with all-natural ingredients and great for the environment” …

Whoops – you’ve just started Greenwashing!

But what is Greenwashing, and how can you avoid it?


What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is the act where companies convey an impression to the public that their products are more environmentally friendly than others but are in fact, misleading them about the extent of the benefit they stand to gain from the product.

This could involve claiming that their product uses natural products in a less wasteful manner, or less chemicals, or recycling materials in the production process – when actually that could be exaggerated, or worse – completely untrue!

There are some serious ramifications if you’re found to be Greenwashing – maybe you’ve seen some prime examples in the news in recent years:


Some big examples of Greenwashing

Aside from McDonalds releasing paper straws that turned out to be non-recyclable, and Starbucks released straw-less lids that had more plastic that the separate lid and straw combined, there are plenty of examples of large companies Greenwashing that you may not have even realised:


  • In 2015, Volkswagen was found to have been cheating on emissions tests in the US by installing a defect device, which checked when emissions tests were being conducted and adapted the car’s output to skew results. This was while they were publicising their low-emission and eco-friendly features.


  • In 2020, IKEA was called out by Earthsight for illegal logging in Ukraine. They had been found to be making beechwood chairs using illegally sourced wood from the Carpathian region of Ukraine – all of this despite being among the best in the world in terms of sustainability credentials according to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).


  • A little closer to home, Unilever was called out in 2022 for making unclear environmental claims in their ads for Persil. Their claim of their product being “kinder on the planet” was considered unsubstantiated.


  • Lastly, back in 2020, food brand Quorn were called out by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for making misleading and unverifiable carbon footprint claims. They found that Quorn’s advert claiming their product “helps us reduce our carbon impact” wasn’t clear about who was meant by “us”.


How can small businesses avoid Greenwashing?

It’s usually large companies that are often found to be Greenwashing, but it’s a good idea to get these practices instilled early in your business so you can avoid negative press and loss in sales:

When you’re talking about your product and want to feature the environmental impact in advertising, make sure you’re absolutely clear with information. If you’re product is made from 50% recycled materials, say exactly that!

Also, if you’re going to make a claim about the eco-friendliness of your product, make sure you can prove exactly what you’re saying – whether that’s in the creation, usage, or disposal of your product.