This is “Green”, Right?
Making environmentally conscious decisions shouldn’t be expensive, but there are companies everywhere trying to make you spend money on a product that is labeled “green” or “eco-friendly” that you not only don’t need but that isn’t actually good for the environment. Greenwashing is a “marketing technique whereby a company falsely claims to have taken environmentally friendly actions”. In fact, most “green” campaigns or items sold in supermarkets are unsubstantiated.
Forget buzz words like “green”, “natural”, “organic”, “eco-friendly”, “recyclable”, and “biodegradable”, and use critical thinking to determine if an item is more environmentally friendly than another.
True green products usually back up their claims with facts and details.– Investopedia
Greenwashing is such an issue in the marketplace that the FCC has created guidelines to help consumers recognize it and find products that are actually environmentally friendly. Similarly, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides examples of greenwashing and a voluntary guideline for deceptive green marketing claims 1 https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/greenwashing.asp .
A great blog post and video that talks more about Greenwashing and how to identify and avoid it can be found on the Ethical Unicorn website and blog.
What can you do to make a difference?
- Inform others about greenwashing.
- Contact companies and voice your opinion on products that are greenwashed. Let them know what you as a consumer would rather spend your money on.
- Do your research on companies and products and spend your money (aka your vote) on products that actually make a difference and are better.
- Contact companies that you like and give them support for making environmentally friendly products.
- Share non-greenwashed products with your friends and family.
- What is it made of? Is the entire item “green”, or did they just add some “green” ingredients or parts? (“Now with 90% natural ingredients!”, “A smaller cap to use less plastic, for the environment!”, “Boxed water, definitely for the environment!”)
- If it claims it’s organic, does it have an organic certification? If it doesn’t have it, don’t believe its organic.
- Does it use buzz words? If so, I’d be skeptical of their claims.
- How would this product be more “green” than the alternative? Can it be recycled easier? Is the packaging home compostable? If it’s not clear, or it forces you to use a strange program to recycle it, its not very “green” or convenient.
Alane Ertel is a graduate from the MPH program at the University of North Florida, and was an Intern at their Environmental Center during the creation of this project. Alane’s goal in creating this project is to increase awareness of environmental issues, spread zero/low waste practices, and improve environmental and human health by utilizing her passions for the environment and for creating a healthier society.