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The Greenwashing podium (and tips on how to avoid it)

"A marketing strategy that consists of deceiving consumers about a company's true environmental impact, by displaying a more responsible, environmentally conscious image." This is how Greenpeace defines greenwashing. Along with Friends of the Earth and Notre Affaire à tous, the NGO took TotalEnergies to court in 2022, accusing it of misleading consumers by passing itself off as "a player in the energy transition". Total, H&M, Carrefour... in this article we explain the 3 biggest cases of greenwashing revealed over the last 5 years, while giving you the means to understand how to act FOR REAL, in the sectors to which these 3 companies belong. 

📣 H&M with a clear conscience

Does H&M's "Conscious Collection" ring a bell? In 2020, the famous ready-to-wear chain was accused of greenwashing with its "conscious" campaign, launched in 2011 and supposedly promoting sustainable clothing. Most of them were in fact made from synthetic, unsustainable materials. H&M had used misleading terms with its customers, riding the wave of "slow fashion" to promote its products, which diverted customers' attention from its bad practices: the synthetic materials used in most of its clothes, the fact that these synthetic textile fibers dissolve in washing machine water, discharging microplastics into the ocean, the fact that they offer to recycle your old clothes in exchange for a voucher to buy the brand's polluting clothes again... In short, enough to make you believe that you could buy peacefully from them, without impacting the planet! 🤥 

Valerie Gramond, founder of Green Lobby, also discusses the brand's "Bottle2fashion" collection, which features the slogan "clean up the oceans". For her, it's also greenwashing. She talks about it in this article posted on LinkedIn

Fashion and sustainability: how to transform the sector?

To understand the codes of sustainable fashion and adopt business models aligned with these practices, it may be worthwhile to take a training course on these subjects, whether you're already a fashion professional or just becoming one! Here's 1 training idea:

French Fashion Institute (IFM)

Prepares fashion and luxury professionals to grasp the challenges of sustainable development in this sector. It takes place inParis, the various sessions are organized on a part-time basis and lasts11 days.

How can I finance my training?

The course is eligible for OPCO and CPF.

👉 More about the programs

📣 Total in denial

Unsurprisingly, the giant Total has a few cases of greenwashing on its record! In May 2023, a German environmental association won a court case against TotalEnergies in Düsseldorf, accusing it of misleading consumers by presenting a type of heating oil as "carbon neutral" in its advertising. Their heating oil was allegedly CO2-compensated. So, is Total in denial? 🤔 A bit yes... Total claimed to offset this heating oil via the financing of a forest protection project in the Amazon region of Peru."400 local families were thus granted land rights"or"the families already owned these lands before the project began." Moreover "the flue gases burned or released during oil production were excluded from the overall consideration aimed at climate neutrality", indicates a German newspaper repeating the statements made at the trial. More recently, in France, in March 2022, the 3 NGOs Friends of the Earth, GreenPeace and Notre Affaire à tous filed a lawsuit alleging misleading commercial practices by the Total group since its name and identity change in 2021. The name was changed from Total to TotalEnergies. The organization is accused of "greenwashing" in its advertising campaigns, with false environmental claims concerning its strategy of carbon neutrality in 2050, as well as the climatic properties of gas and agrofuels. On May 17, 2023, this appeal was deemed admissible by the Paris Court. It remains to be seen whether the multinational will be condemned again...

Energy transition: how to transform the sector  

In France, 44% of our energy comes from fossil fuels, 40% from nuclear power and 14% from renewable energies. Would you like to understand what we're really talking about when we talk about energy transition? Here are a few training courses to help you understand how to turn to renewable energy models: 

Master of Energy Transition Management - EM Lyon

EM Lyon's 1-year Master's in Energy Transformation Management trains you to initiate, lead and expand energy transition projects in organizations;

How can it be financed?

Depending on your profile, you may be eligible for social grants to help finance your year.

👉 Learn more about the Energy Transition Management Master.

Audencia's Actor for Energy Transition Master's degree

With 6 months of classes and 6 months of internships in the field, Audencia teaches you how to become a key player in the energy transition, leading to careers such as renewable energy project management.

How can it be financed?

Depending on your profile, you may be eligible for social grants to help finance your year.

👉 Learn more about the Actor for Energy Transition Master's degree.

Master of Science Optimization & Energy Efficiency from Ionis STM 

Ionis STM offers a 1 to 2 year course in Paris to train people to be employable in the energy sector with both managerial and technological skills. You'll learn how to optimize energy management, energy efficiency and conduct feasibility studies to implement renewable energies and meet today's sustainable development requirements.

How can it be financed?

Training is available on a work-study basis (i.e. the company finances your training).

👉 Learn more about the Master of Science Optimization & Energy Efficiency 

📣 Nespresso gets a little too green

100% recyclable Nespresso capsules? Responsible communication is like coffee - you can't overdo it. In 2022, the associations CLCV (Consommation, logement et cadre de vie) and CCFD-Terre solidaire accused the brand of excessive claims and took legal action. To say that it is carbon-neutral, or to boast about the "100% recyclability" of its aluminum capsules, would indeed be a bit too much: 81% of the aluminum making up the capsules actually being lost after use, according to a study carried out by Olivier Guichardaz, editor-in-chief of the specialized website déchets-infos. This claim misleads consumers.

Recycling: how to create a circular economy?

From sourcing to product end-of-life, adopting the circular economy requires following a few rules. In fact, it's based on 7 pillars discussed in this article! And to implement the circular economy in your business, there are a few specialized training courses. Here's 1:

Managing sustainable purchasing with EcoLearn

With this online, 3-month training course, you'll learn about sustainability issues by understanding how to source and buy more sustainable materials.

How can I finance my training?

The course is eligible for CPF and Pôle Emploi funding, as well as company financing.

👉 Learn more about the Managing Sustainable Procurement training.

Training in responsible marketing and communications

The Carrefour, Total and H&M cases are a reminder that communication campaigns need to be worked on! You can't tell consumers just anything, just because it looks good on paper. To avoid spreading lies all over the place, Ademe has created an anti-greenwashing guide for communications professionals. And if you want to go further on the subject of responsible communication, here are a few organizations that can help you or your comm' or market' colleague:

For marketing and communications professionals

Primary Pink

As a responsible communications and digital agency, Rose primaire also trains professionals on these subjects via short 4-day modules, either face-to-face in Toulouse or online. For example, the organization offers a specific training course on how to implement engaging communication to encourage changes in behavior.

Training is eligible for Opco.

👉 Find out more about Rose Primaire training.


Indigo's marketing training course teaches you how to build a responsible strategy from A to Z. 100% online, it covers a total of 15 hours in 5 sessions.

Training is eligible for Opco, the Compte professionnel de formation (Cpf) and Pôle Emploi.

👉 Learn more about Indigo training


We offer short 2-day face-to-face or online training courses on responsible communication. You'll also learn how to manage a responsible project.

Training is eligible for Opco.

👉 Learn more about Lucie training

To move into responsible marketing and communications

Bachelor Communication et Engagement Citoyen from Sup de Com

Sup de Com's 3-year Bachelor's program trains you in responsible communications strategies. The Paris-based program can be taken on a sandwich basis, or as part of a Master's degree.

Financing? As part of a work-study program, tuition fees are paid by the company. There are also local and national funding solutions, such as scholarships, to help you finance your training. You can check with the school to find out what options are available.

👉 Learn more about Sup de Com's Bachelor.

Green Management School

Over a 1-year sandwich course, the Management de la transition écologique et solidaire (Management of the Ecological and Solidarity-based Transition) program leads to jobs as CSR manager, transition manager, lobbyist... with a strong focus on marketing and communication of CSR strategy! With 30% face-to-face courses and 70% distance learning, the format is hybrid. Practical, for example, when retraining for a new career!

How can it be financed?

Depending on your profile, you may be eligible for social grants to help finance your year.

👉 Learn more about the Ecological and Solidarity Transition Management training.

ESG ACT Master's degree in sustainable development, marketing specialization

Over a duration of 2 years, with the option of a sandwich course, the Mastère développement durable, marketing specialization trains you to implement sustainable marketing strategies. The master's degree is based in Paris.

How can it be financed?

In the case of work-study programs, tuition fees are paid by the company. There are also local and national funding solutions, such as scholarships, to help you finance your training. You can contact the school to find out what options are available.

👉 Learn more about ESG ACT's marketing training.

To find out more 

👉Fashion pollutes, how can we take action?

👉Managing the energy transition: a mission to be met via a diversity of professions

👉The circular economy to transform economic practices

👉How to avoid the pitfalls of greenwashing?

Taking action

👉 Discover all the training courses around ecological and societal transition

👉 Find a job with a positive impact