These days there seems to be so many different “shades” of green it is hard to tell the difference between what is green and what is just good product marketing. You may be familiar with the term “greenwashing.” If not, let me explain, it’s a term describing the deceptive use of green marketing or PR. The term is generally used when more time and money has been spent advertising a product is green, rather than spending resources on environmentally sound practices.
Did you know? Most Americans are willing to pay a little more for household products if they’re both family-friendly and environmentally safe. Some manufacturers want to meet consumers halfway by selling products that are “sort of” green.
One leading manufacturer for example, is using common greenwashing images of a leafy forest to cash in on the green revolution and to promote their green cleaning wipes. They advertise the wipes as being biodegradable, but what about the chemicals in the wipes, how well do they break down in the environment? And the plastic container that these wipes are packaged in is definitely not biodegradable.
We live in a world where most of us are concerned with both our health and the environment. We know that between the overuse of energy and natural resources and overexposure to dangerous chemicals we are putting our health, our survival, and our planet in danger. While things are being done to help, we don’t really know if they have been done in time. What we do know is that greenwashing isn’t helping.
In a world where we all know something needs to give, companies are stepping in with green alternatives, but are they really green? What can we – the consumers do? How can we tell if a product is really green?
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. One example of this is if a label claims a product is “all natural.” Well, I’d read the label if I were you. If you see a really LONG list of chemicals that you can’t even pronounce chances are the product is not ALL natural.
- Look for labels that are very specific. For instance a product that says “made with 100% all natural products” is better than a product that just says “all natural.”
- Is the product really green or has the company just done a really good job of using the word green as a label design or product line name? Read the labels and make an informed decision, don’t be blinded by a good graphic design with cool pictures.
- Research the companies that are claiming to sell environmentally safe products.
- Learn the language. Terms like “natural” and “nontoxic,” have no standard definition, guaranteeing very little when found in advertising. They’re easy to slap on a product, and they’re not currently regulated.
The bottom line, trust your gut. Buy products that you have researched and whose claims make sense.