Friday, December 10, 2010

Have You Been "Greenwashed"?

Currently worldwide Green is the key word that companies are eager to demonstrate. I stumbled upon this article this morning and was motivated to stand up and say something:

The average citizen is finding it more and more difficult to tell the difference between those companies genuinely dedicated to making a difference and those that are using a green curtain to conceal dark motives. Consumers are constantly bombarded by corporate campaigns touting green goals, programs, and accomplishments. Even when corporations voluntarily strengthen their record on the environment, they often use multi-million dollar advertising campaigns to exaggerate these minor improvements as major achievements.

Sometimes, not even the intentions are genuine. Some companies, when forced by legislation or a court decision to improve their environmental track record, promote the resulting changes as if they had taken the step voluntarily. And at the same time that many corporations are touting their new green image (and their CEOs are giving lectures on corporate ecological ethics), their lobbyists are working night and day in Washington to gut environmental protections.

To read the full article click here.

Are you tired of seeing the words, Green, Eco, Bio, Natural and Environmentally Friendly in association with products that common sense tells you are most certainly NOT?

I am.

According to Wikipedia:

Greenwashing is a term describing the deceptive use of green PR or green marketing in order to promote a misleading perception that a company's policies or products are environmentally friendly. The term green sheen has similarly been used to describe organizations that attempt to show that they are adopting practices beneficial to the environment.

A new survey suggests that over 95% of all companies claiming to be green are guilty of at least one count of greenwashing. The upside is that 5% of companies claiming to be green actually are. I can say that we are one of them :)

You can avoid being Greenwashed.

1. Look at labels.
For example: If a product claims to be recycled - the company must list the recycled content percentage. If a cleaning product claims to be green it may be that just the packaging is green. You want the product to be: Biodegradable, phosphate free, chlorine free, bleach free and scented with natural oils or fragrances.

2. Look for the country of origin.
There are several reasons to see where your product was manufactured. One reason is that if it was made outside the USA or Canada you want to make sure it has a "Fair Trade" label. Fair trade doesn't equate environmental responsibility but it does mean that children weren't making your product. Another reason to check the country of origin, especially when using creams and supplements, is that other countries do not have the same health and safety guidelines which are enforced in the USA and Canada. Do you really want to use a face cream that was made in Asia, quick and cheap, without the USA Health Codes? Oftentimes big companies who buy such products to sell here do not do their due diligence. Just a warning...

3. Food products must be labeled.
Organic food products will be labeled "USDA Organic" if they are truly organic.

4. Use common sense
If a product is disposable, even if it's organic, it should be biodegradable or compostable if it's truly green. If you look at a product and think, "how in the world can this be environmentally friendly" - chances are that it's not.

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