Friday, April 17, 2009

Buyer beware: Greenwashing abounds

Green trees

According to a report in today's Toronto Star, 
The labels on 98 per cent of those good-for-the-earth-and-your-body items you fill your shopping basket with are lying, a new study shows.

Of the more than 2,000 self-described environmentally friendly products in North America examined by the environmental marketing firm TerraChoice, only 25 were found to be indisputably "sin free." The rest were greenwashing, a term environmentalists coined to refer to misleading environmental ads or claims...

Greenwashing is especially prevalent in the promotion of cleaning products, cosmetics and children's toys and products, McDougall said...

The Competition Bureau of Canada set out new guidelines for environmental claims last year, but gave industry a year to bring advertisements and labels in line...

In Canada, most transgressions fell into three categories: lack of proof, vague language or "hidden trade-offs" – the practice of emphasizing a product's green aspects while concealing others that are environmentally damaging.

For instance, a "green" pad of paper might have come from sustainably logged trees but been milled in an ancient, carbon-dioxide spewing mill that still uses dioxin-producing chlorine to bleach the pulp, he said.
Sleight of hand
Check out the "Seven Sins of Greenwashing".

Graphics courtesy of Terrachoice.

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