In a humorous video recently posted to TikTok, a creator exposes a fake recycling bin when he shows that though Subway offered two trash cans, one for recycling and one for other trash when you open the bin doors, the trash all goes in the same place. The creator, @garayua21, posted the video joking that he was helping the planet one step at a time. Though the video was posted casually, many in the comments were very upset by this, feeling a bit bamboozled by this.
Many commented that they often took the time to separate their recyclables and throw away trash and that they feel a little bit hurt or betrayed that they would be given an option that is not actually being used. One person noted that “It’s like this everywhere you think your recycling but it’s just going to the dump. The biggest scam in the world.” Many agreed with this, wondering why a company would want to pull this “trick” on customers and what the reasoning would be. With views creeping to 10 million, it was safe to say people were feeling hurt.
And, as odd as it sounds, there is a name for this: Greenwashing. Greenwashing is referred to when a company markets itself to be helping the environment to seem environmentally friendly to customers, but all of it is a show. Oftentimes, companies spend more money to market themselves as such, when they could actually be using the money to make worthwhile changes. Many said that other restaurants, like Subway and Starbucks, were guilty of the same thing. Many remembered when Starbucks began making customers ask for plastic straws instead of being given them off the bat, hoping to deter customers from using single-use plastic. Some thought this was great, and Starbucks was praised for being progressive. Others, however, identified it as greenwashing, as the cups are still plastic, which many felt like it was only performative.
Overall, it seems like a common practice for companies to market themselves as environmentally friendly for good publicity, but not actually take any steps in order to do things to help the planet. Many find this concerning and are grateful for this awareness of manipulation to customers, hopeful to give their money to eco-friendly companies.