Consumer awareness of environmental issues has never been higher. As this awareness has grown so has the accompanying marketing spin with advertisers jumping on the bandwagon and using it to sell their wares. However, how many of their claims are Green Wash?

According to Terrachoice, green advertising has increased tenfold since 1990, but found that only 2% of the claims made had any real substance. The biggest offenders in this game are cosmetics, household cleaning products, and children’s toys. So how can you tell if it’s been greenwashed?

The use of vague terms such as green, eco-friendly, sustainable, natural, and pure make no sense unless they are justified. These terms are so general that they have no real weight. Look for information that specifically supports these terms. If it’s not on the packaging, it’s most likely a green wash. Very often you will see “Fragrance Free” on the front of the package only to find the fragrance listed on the back of the ingredients list.

Beware of products that are sold as organic but do not have third-party certification. Again, with wood products that advertise themselves as being made from sustainably grown wood, look for the proof.

Inside the huge green spin, you’ll find a mish-mash of claims that, when examined, turn out to be totally irrelevant. A classic example of this is the way products in aerosol cans, refrigerators and freezers scream “CFC free!” when the use of CFCs has been banned for years. The same trick is used by toilet paper manufacturers who proudly claim that their product is biodegradable. You’d have to be worried if his newspaper wasn’t. This is totally irrelevant information that is designed solely to make you think that you are dealing with an environmentally conscious company.

True eco-friendly materials and ingredients are top quality. You want to be sure you get what you pay for and support those companies that are making a genuine effort to clean up their act. Take a closer look and don’t let them fool you.

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