How Greenwashing Pumps More Microplastics Into The Environment

Many companies claim to be making eco-friendly changes to their business and packaging. But do these greenwashing claims just worsen the microplastic problem?

Microplastics are all around us. They’re in our food, our drinking water, our air, our entire environment. That’s the bad news. It’s hard to put a silver-lining spin on the whole situation; they’re too small to clean up.

There really isn’t good news about microplastics, but we can stop making the problem worse.


What are Microplastics?

Simply put, microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic less than 5 millimeters long—approximately the size of a sesame seed. They come from a variety of sources, including tires, textiles, cigarette butts, and packaging. 

Microplastics come primarily from larger pieces. When plastic becomes brittle in the sun—styrofoam to-go containers, soda bottles, shrink wrap, etc.—it breaks off into smaller and smaller pieces, eventually becoming micro-sized. 

Plastics in Ocean
▴ Microplastics are fragments of any type of plastic less than 5 mm in length.


From there, microplastics are ingested by fish and settle at the bottom of lakes and rivers. The wind picks them up and blows them around, and we breathe them in. Microplastics have been shown to affect development in some species already.

Ever heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s just breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces and spreading outward.


Greenwashing. What Is It?

So what do microplastics have to do with greenwashing, and what is it? Greenwashing, in short, is basically a form of deceptive advertising. Another word for that is lying. But it’s not so simple. There are seven agreed-upon sins of greenwashing. One is outright lying (see, Volkswagen). 

Another sin is false labeling, which brings us to Coca-Cola. They debuted the PlantBottle in 2009, claiming 30% of the new bottle was made from plants. The company was later accused of greenwashing in Denmark and violating the Danish Marketing Practices Act when it was revealed the bottle was made from at most 15% of plants.

Recently, Coca-Cola was named the worst plastic polluter in the world for the third year in a row. And then there’s this.


What’s The Problem?

It’s hard enough as a customer to know what to believe when we see advertising. When a company claims their bottle is “green,” we want to believe it

Basically, a bottle made from less petroleum-based plastic will still break down, and will still create microplastics. Just a little less. 

But what about recycling? Can’t we recycle our way out of the problem? This is what happens to your recycling  yeah, not great. 

Plastic Floating

▴ Photo by Naja Bertolt Jensen on Unsplash


What’s The Solution?

The only way out of this problem is to consume less and reuse more. Reduce, reuse, recycle – in that order! But that calls for monumental cultural shifts.

To inspire that shift, use products that have 100% plant-based packaging & compostable packing, and reduce whenever or wherever you can. Microplastics are already out there, but we can stop introducing more.

While we hope companies are transparent and honest with their sustainability initiatives, take the time to figure out what the labels and claims mean so you know your dollar is going to a value-aligned company. 

That’s why we created a home-compostable wrapper for our snack bars. It’s made from soy, so you can eat itCurious about compostable packaging options for your business? Let’s chat! You could say we’re a little bit stoked about this stuff. 


Decide our future. Follow us on Instagram and TikTok to join the conversation on social issues and be part of direct action.



Article by Impact Snacks Contributor, Nate Tyler Website 

Tags: change, plastic


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