5 Brands Abusing What it Means to be a Conscious Business

Photo by Smart on Unsplash

There are times in life when a fire emerges inside your soul and tells you to take action. Well, that fire has been burning inside of us here at Serious Business and it’s now clearly told us to make some particular call outs for the greater good of our planet and most importantly, the greater good of our people. Below we have laid out a list of brands that have taken advantage of a trending topic, ‘conscious business’, to portray themselves as altruistic to their respective audiences. The goal of this list is not to shame these brands but to acknowledge that singular conscious business actions do not constitute an entire brand as conscious. When evaluating if a brand is conscious, we take a look at a brand’s purpose, purpose in this sense is not a growth target, nor is it just “giving back” to society. A true conscious company holds a higher purpose that benefits the planet, society, and its employees. As a result, the brand’s higher purpose then trickles into its everyday business activities and decision-making.

The following brands have the power to make a lasting impact on humanity that our future generations will forever be thankful for…if they move towards being true conscious businesses. Their unconscious actions cannot be justified by the number printed on their bottom line. Remember, a conscious business’s purpose is NOT a growth target. So let’s let this post be a nudge in the right direction or a guide to change. The first step in changing behavior is acknowledging the change is needed in the first place, right? Right.

  1. H&M

With their new conscious line taking flight, consumers are jumping for joy that this fast-fashion retailer can not only fulfill their trend-setting needs but also fulfill their good deed needs. Unfortunately, in reality, what this conscious line is succeeding at is distracting consumers from their unethical labor standards and the fact that they are still pushing out new styles almost weekly. As long as H&M continues to be a fast-fashion retailer selling the latest trends, conscious should be nowhere near their name.

2. Lush Cosmetics

Lush claims to be the leader in all-natural skincare and cosmetics. One would believe that would mean real ingredients sourced from our planet, untouched, ready to deliver skin as soft as a baby’s bottom. Even a quick visit to their website could have had us fooled with sneaky words sprinkled throughout, such as ‘handmade’ and ‘fresh’. Yet when we took a closer look at the ingredients list of some of their products, we found these not so natural components like ‘fragrance’, ‘red 27’, ‘blue 1’ or ‘butylphenyl methylpropional’ (is this even a real word?) — all of which are known to be possible allergens and harmful to our water systems.

3. Unilever

While Unilever provides the necessities of everyday life, such as body soap and laundry detergent, to people all over the world, there are certain aspects of the brand that are hard to forget. For example, the amount of plastic they use for the packaging of their products. Yet, when you visit their website they have an entire page dedicated to sustainability. Conscious businesses practice what they preach and that is not what we’re seeing here. Unilever, step up your game 😉

4. Volkswagen

In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency discovered that certain VW cars in the United States had software added to them to cheat emissions tests. Meanwhile, VW had produced ads where they portrayed their diesel cars as environmentally friendly due to their low emissions. They admitted to cheating the tests and emitting more than 40 times the accepted amount of Co2.

5. Nestle

For many years Nestle has claimed that its cocoa beans have been sustainably sourced. Yet, in 2019, there was a lawsuit filed against them revealing their supply chain is contributing to massive deforestation in West Africa. Let’s keep an eye on this one, folks, as chocolate and healthy forests are both very serious matters.

This is a wake up to brands near and far; old and young; struggling and thriving — conscious business is not a trending topic, but rather a movement we should all get behind, for the long-run. If we want to leave a healthy planet for our future generations, this is how we can start. Conscious business is where the real magic happens.