Greenwashing ?

Rising demand for eco-friendly products and environmentally ethical business practices signals a fantastic shift toward conscious consumerism; but it has also led to increased greenwashing.

Based on the term “whitewashing”, the definition of greenwashing is “to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is”. Essentially, it refers to dishonest or deceitful marketing about a company or product’s environmental impact.

Companies or individuals who “greenwash” often spend more money on making consumers think their practices are sustainable than actually making them so. Sometimes it’s as subtle as a product name; others it goes so far as to falsify carbon emission records. Greenwashing has gotten savvy and sneaky: falsified emissions testing, fake “certified” labels, and marketing slogans that sound legit. So how do we avoid it?

Fortunately, restrictions and prosecuting powers are getting better. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTA) has moved for stricter, more definitive guidelines, which you can read in the FTC “Green Guides”.

As consumers, we can help by simply being more mindful, even a little skeptical. If something seems suspicious, it likely is.

Go beyond reading the label. Look at the ingredients. It’s easy for companies to lie on the label, but downright illegal to lie about ingredients.  Make sure that “organic” product has ingredients you’ve heard of.

We also recommend using the Environmental Working Group as a resource to learn what ingredients really are.

Better yet, look for third party certifications, such as:

Among many others, these are great ways to know someone else done the checking so you don’t have to.

Rich Roll podcast interviews David Bronner who now runs the famous Dr Bronner’s. Towards the end David talks about trustworthy certifications. He also touches briefly on their own legal activity, suing those who falsely use green / eco credentials that they don’t have.

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