How to recognize greenwashing
- Which products are “green” and which are “greenwashed”? Greenwashing, a deceptive use of green marketing, is when companies try to make themselves look more environmentally friendly than they are in actuality.
- TerraChoice Environmental Marketing (http://www.terrachoice.com/files/6_sins.pdf) conducted a survey of six leading big box stores. The surveys identified 1,018 consumer products making environmental claims, of them, 1,017 made claims that were false or risked misleading the potential buyer.
Be Part of the Solution
How do I know I am buying truly eco-friendly products?
- Ask yourself, does the product focus on only one (or two) eco-issues while ignoring other important ones? Truly eco-friendly and sustainable products try to address many issues. For example, a paper company may promote recycled content or sustainable harvesting information but neglect to mention manufacturing impacts such as air emissions, water emissions, and global warming impacts.
- Does the product provide evidence of its environmentally sensitive claim on its packaging or company website? For example, does your “not tested on animals” shampoo offer evidence or certification of this claim?
- Can the manufacturer back up “organic” claims? Do they provide certification? Is the company’s claim so general or broad that its real meaning could be misunderstood by the consumer? For example, “Green”, “Environmentally friendly”, and “Eco-conscious” have no meaning without further explanation from the manufacturer.
- Taking the last point a step further, could the company be lying about their green certification? For example, does the “certified organic” product provide evidence of the certification?
- Does the product make a truthful environmental claim that is unimportant in helping the consumers decide which environmentally friendly product to purchase? For example, does the product claim to be CFC-free? Being CFC-free is irrelevant since all products are CFC-free as CFC’s have been banned in the US for almost 3 decades.
- Is the “green” claim trying to make you feel better about buying a product that is just not inherently green”? For example, cigarettes with organically grown tobacco are still cigarettes.
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