Death to green washing. How to not get canceled.

How Not to Get Canceled 

The climate content space is a wide open field—full of opportunity, room to frolic, and fresh air. But there are also goblins you have to watch out for: misinformation, sneaky brands and online trolls. We start you off with a handy toolbox to learn how to deal. Don’t let the goblins stop you from talking about the world’s most crucial issue—or partnering with brands actually making a difference. Creators deserve space to show people how the world is changing for the better, and get paid while doing it!

In collaboration
with Futerra
Futerra logo

Dealing with Self-Doubt

  • “I don’t know enough about climate change to express my opinions publicly.”

    Then don’t. Talk about what we can do about it. The solutions need more promotion than the problem anyway.

  • “I don’t want to perpetuate incorrect information.”

    Online sources like Statista and NASA are chock-a-block with climate information. Cite sources if you’re referring to specific statistics or data.

  • “I feel weird trying to change people’s minds and behaviors.”

    Show don’t tell. Make changes in your own life and talk about how that feels.

  • “I don’t want to get canceled by climate activists if I make a mistake.”

    Promise imperfection. Bring your audience on your journey of making climate-friendly choices. Be open about trying to adopt more sustainable behaviors, instead of preaching to your followers.

We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.

Anne-Marie Bonneau, @ZeroWasteChef

Shades of Greenwashing

Greenwashing is when a company or brand misleads the public about its environmental impact. The insidious thing about it is that it can happen accidentally, even from people with good intentions. As creators, you have the power to influence positive change in your audience, and encourage brands to engage more responsibly. You can urge them to use accurate language, lead the way in transparency about the industry's shortcomings, and promote ethical practices within their industry. The journey begins with learning the basic rules on how to detect and avoid greenwashing—both in your own content, and in brand partnerships.

  • Fluffy language

    Words or terms with no clear meaning, like “eco-friendly.”
  • Green product, dirty company

    Like efficient light bulbs made in a factory which pollutes rivers.
  • Suggestive pictures

    Images that indicate unjustified green impact, like a car sprouting flowers.
  • Irrelevant claims

    Emphasizing one tiny green attribute when everything else is not green.
  • Best in class?

    Declaring you’re greener than the rest, even if the rest are pretty terrible.
  • Just not credible

    Like “eco-friendly cigarettes,” greening a dangerous product doesn’t make it safe.
  • Technical Nonsense

    Jargon that only a scientist could check or understand.
  • Imaginary friends

    A badge that looks like third-party endorsement — except it’s made up.
  • No proof

    It could be right, but where’s the evidence?
  • Outright lying

    Totally fabricated claims or data, like “clean diesel.”

4 Rules for Brand Partnerships

  • 1

    Always Do your research

    Sustainability is hard to do well and there are zero quick fixes. Good signs are brands that are humble, forthcoming with information, and admit they’ve made mistakes. Look for facts, specifics, diverse boards, a process for reducing carbon emissions. You want hard numbers and verifiable processes here.

  • 2

    Verify with Third-Parties

    Find out if the brand is legit sustainable or faking it with these resources. The Good Shopping Guide gives gives brands ethical ratings. Major companies have joined the United Nations Race to Zero. Check out Certified B-Corps—they’re great brand partners.

  • 3

    Call Them Out when necessary

    If bad practices or mistakes on the brand’s part arise during a partnership, acknowledge them, call them out, stand your ground. A best practice is bringing the brand to your platform and asking them questions. Protect yourself by never promising to protect them.

  • 4

    Write your own rules

    Make a dealbreaker list of what you’re not willing to do. List out industries you’ll never work with, standards you expect from brands, and ask for their sustainability report. Different creators live by different rules—figure out what yours are, and be consistent.

Watch These People get it Right 

  • @greengirlleah talks about plan based protein powder.

  • @futureearth and vintage brand Sami Miro's stylish Earth Day collab. 

Trolls & Deniers

  • Headshot of someone covered in green paint with a red nose.

    The Deniers

    Don’t believe climate change is happening, deny science and push conspiracies.

    You say

    Nothing. Ignore them, because they’re not open to having their minds changed. Report if they get too shouty.

    Then Remind yourself

    • Of the scientific consensus on climate change
    • That focusing energy on those passionate about making a difference will increase your impact as a creator. Allow Deniers to open their minds on their own time and don’t let them waste yours.
  • Headshot of someone covered in green paint with ski goggles.

    The Doomists

    Believe that any action taken is too little too late.

    You say

    Every 0.1 degree of warming counts. It might feel overwhelming, but scientists are desperate for us to act. Giving up is also a privilege poor and underserved communities—that are often excluded from environmental protections—don’t have.

    Then send them these

  • Headshot of someone covered in green paint.

    The What-about-ists

    Believe that personal action is a distraction from the political and infrastructure changes we need.

    You say

    Every action counts. Individual actions send a message to business and government about the world we want. Smaller individual actions also serve as a gateway drug for people to learn more about governmental systems' roles in the climate crisis and environmental justice.

    Then send them these

  • Headshot of someone covered in green paint with glasses.

    The Changeless

    Believe that climate action is too inconvenient and involves too much sacrifice.

    You say

    The shift to a post-climate crisis future can be fun, abundant, joyful, and good for everyone. For example, eating plant-based is delicious, healthy and promotes a more sustainable relationship with our food systems and planet—what’s not to like?

    Then send them these

Climate optimism is not the expectation of a salvaged planet. Instead, it is the proclamation of hope for a healthier and more just planet and the pursuit of actions aligned with what needs to be done to get there.

Zahra Biabani, Author of Climate Optimism: Celebrating Systemic Change Around the World

Creative climate collaborations