How to Showcase your Sustainability Achievements with Confidence

Greenwashing is the art of overstating your emissions reduction performance, and greenhushing is its understated sibling. When businesses underreport, obscure or even erase their sustainability goals and achievements from public records, that’s greenhushing.

Just like greenwashing, greenhushing comes in many forms. Businesses might be hesitant to talk about sustainability for fear of looking like greenwashers, or they might be keeping their heads down because they’re not confident in the data they have about the outcomes of their green policies and activities.

Consumers need confidence that the businesses they’re buying from represent their values as they become more sustainability-driven. Businesses need to be confident that they’re upholding the values they’ve made public in their private operations.

Businesses need to maximise the benefits of going green without fear of making themselves vulnerable. This means being able to back their green claims up with robust, trustworthy data that removes the temptation to greenhush. The trick to showing off your achievements with confidence is having confidence in your data. Here’s how to get it.

The Greenwashing – Not Good Enough Spectrum

With the burgeoning awareness that businesses need to green their activities and might be willing to tailor the truth to their ends to get there, communicating the journey to net-zero is trickier than ever. The fear that they will be accused of greenwashing is all too real. The urge to say nothing can undermine global sustainability efforts as large companies need to stand up and show leadership to influence and progress the market.

Businesses that greenhush might look like they’ve done nothing at all, and while under scrutiny from the media, if they don’t flaunt their sustainability achievements, as far as regulators and the public are concerned,  it’ll be like they never happened at all. True, the impact will still be there, but keeping it behind closed doors can mean businesses will miss out on all the reputational benefits that come with it.

This is particularly acute for small businesses, which have been left out of recent sustainability regulations and certifications and aren’t as incentivised to report publicly. But it isn’t just small companies who greenhush; large companies are also hesitant to publicise their sustainability partnerships and projects.

In America, companies are being sued by the left for doing too little and the right for doing too much. Blackrock’s CEO Larry Fink won’t even use the term ESG while it’s still being brandished as a political weapon. Their website used to be full of information about their sustainability goals and achievements, but that’s all been quietly dismantled.

Hesitation is understandable. In a single year, South Pole went from being hailed as the “fairy godmother of green wishes” to being pasted in the press for greenwashing and selling unscrupulous offsets. This is despite South Pole’s report, which identified that 67% of large companies have a net-zero and a science-based target, but 23% do not plan to publicise their science-based emissions goals.

The European Commission has proposed the Green Claims Directive to address greenwashing concerns by tackling the risk of companies misleading EU consumers over environmental claims. Under the new rules, companies must substantiate their green claims based on data from a life-cycle assessment.

With a heavier burden of proof attached to making green claims, companies might be even more shy about their sustainability comms. While the Green Claims Directive will hopefully help to regulate greenwashing away, it could push some companies further into the shadows until they’re totally secure in their data.

Don’t Curate the Truth, Own It

No one wants to be a greenwasher, but many businesses are being left in the dark by inaccurate, inscrutable emissions data. If businesses can be certain that the emissions data they’re basing their green claims on is accurate, they’ll be more likely to take ownership of their achievements and be brave. When businesses take ownership of their emissions, they’ll inspire positive change in the wider sector, accelerate the viability of other solutions, and drive ESG investment.

An example of the benefits of data in action is Lego’s decision to return to using virgin plastics over plant plastics for their products. The move was controversial, but Lego demonstrated that using a carbon accounting platform was a net positive in reducing their Scope 3 emissions.

“Lego’s openness should serve as a model for all companies, particularly as the CRSD legislation approaches. This impending legislation will compel companies to share data regarding their sustainability efforts, making transparency not just a choice but a necessity. By willingly embracing this transparency, Lego is setting a precedent that others should follow” – Mauro Cozzi, CEO, Emitwise, talking to BBC News

Accurate Emissions Data Grants Businesses the Freedom to Operate with 100% Transparency

Emitwise prides itself on the accuracy of its data so its clients can feel confident in the green claims it supports. They provide clients with a trustworthy inventory of their emissions and help them manage progress on scopes 1, 2, and 3 over time so they can watch their emissions reduction journey unfold in real time with total confidence.

Emitwise also offers their clients’ suppliers a free emissions risk assessment through their Procurewise platform. If fuzzy data is an issue regarding scope 3 emissions, then it soon won’t be, as Emitwise will support you and your partners in improving the emissions data you have available. Journey is the key word here, as no business is perfect, but Emitwise’s data will allow you to track progress and chart the most efficient path to reducing the emissions associated with your business and achieving your green goals.

Emitwise’s platform doesn’t rely on overall category-level emissions; rather, it isolates emissions factors unique to the client. This reflects the businesses’ green achievements; one client won’t be tempted to hide, as you can see from our customer stories.

The confidence that accurate emissions measures can bring could also help accelerate ambitions and identify risk and cost-mitigating opportunities in operations. When businesses that use Emitwise say they’ve reduced emissions, there’s never any doubt. Suppliers that emit less are often more efficient. Reducing emissions and maximising value are mutually reinforcing mechanisms.

In conclusion

You may ask, what’s wrong with achieving your sustainability goals quietly? Why does everything have to be a PR opportunity? Well, research tells us that people are ready and willing to give corporate green claims the side-eye; they’re suspicious of sustainability initiatives happening behind closed doors and want more transparency from businesses. As consumers start making more sustainable decisions, businesses might miss out on the opportunity to sell to an increasingly green market. There’s no need to hide with Emitwise by your side. Contact us to go from greenhusher to making people blush with your sustainability efforts.