OnBuy.com has released research showing the most encouraging, discouraging and misunderstood green and sustainability advertising buzzwords according to consumers.

The phenomenon of ‘greenwashing’ is when a company spends more money and effort on making its products and practices seem environmentally friendly, rather than on actually being environmentally friendly.

Perhaps because of ‘greenwashing’, OnBuy.com found that 83% of consumers feel misled by green and sustainable buzzwords in advertising.


It surveyed 3,446 consumers to find which sustainability buzzwords were most and least likely to work on them in advertising.

‘Biodegradable’ and ‘recycled’ were most successful, with 74% and 63% saying they found the words encouraging.

Meanwhile, ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘low carbon footprint’ were least encouraging, with 22% and 26% respectively.

When asked which buzzwords discourage them the most, consumers’ top answers were ‘powered by nature’ (67%) and ‘organic’ (50%).

Additionally, the most misunderstood green and sustainable buzzwords are:

  1. Low-VOC (96%)
  2. Net zero (48%)
  3. Carbon-negative (26%)
  4. Clean (22%)
  5. Green (19%)