We know that our overuse of energy and natural resources is becoming a real problem. Landfills are overflowing, and our air and water sources are becoming seriously polluted.
While there are things being done to help rectify these problems we don’t really know if they have been done in time. Even worse, if the damage has already been done, is it too late to go back to the pristine state that our environment was once in?
One thing’s for sure, all the eco-marketing and greenwashing really doesn’t make those simple steps any simpler.
This concern for the environment and the guilt that many of us harbor for our poor past choices when it comes to helping to clean up the environment are being preyed upon by the big corporations.
In a world where we all know something is going to have to give, corporations are stepping in with products that they are claiming are ‘green’ but are they really?
The sad truth is there is not much regulation when it comes to what claims companies can make regarding how ‘green’ their products are. In fact, they can put just about anything — whether it is true or not — on their labels. And sadly, most of the time, the claims are not true.
“Specialty researcher TerraChoice Environmental Marketing studied 1,753 environmental claims on 1,018 products found at major retailers. All but one carried claims that could be proven false or that were potentially confusing for consumers.”
So what can you, the consumer, do to make sure that the products you are buying that claim to be ‘green’ really are?
If The Claim Sounds Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is
One example of this might be a label that claims its product is ‘all natural.’
Well… I’d check the contents in that case. If you see a list of chemicals a mile long, then chances are the product is not all natural.
Some companies think they can get away with putting an ‘all natural’ label on their products when they say something like, “add a little bit of lavender essential oil to your clothes soap”.
Keep in mind that most companies are looking to put the best possible light on their products. Since green is the new gold, so to speak, if a company can sell the public on green products, this makes them money.
What Can You Do?
#1 – Look for labels that are very specific.
For example, a label that says “Made with 100% all-natural products” is far better than one that just says “all natural.” The more specific the claim, the more likely that that claim is actually true.
#2 – Educate yourself about green product language.
Many companies will play on the consumer’s ignorance of what constitutes green product language by using terms such as, “all natural,” “nontoxic,” “organic,” and “carbon neutral” — to name a few. None of these terms has any sort of standardized meaning that all companies must follow! So companies can basically use those terms to mean whatever they want them to mean. Unless you happen to work for the company, as a consumer you will really have no idea what meaning a particular company is putting on any of these terms.
#3 – Research the companies that claim to sell eco-friendly products.
Much of what is happening when it comes to creating green products is happening behind closed doors. However, companies will often put information about the research they are doing on their websites. The smart consumer can find out more about this by digging online a bit.
#4 – Don’t be fooled by the packaging.
There is big money in eco-friendly products and big companies are not above using marketing tactics — such as gorgeous packaging — to get you to purchase their products. Read the labels and make an informed decision. Don’t be blinded by a beautiful color scheme and picture on the package.
#5 – Only use green products that have certification.
There are a few certification labels that you can trust when purchasing green products:
- Energy Star – for appliances and electronics that are energy saving
- USDA Organic seal – for cosmetics and foods that truly are organic
- Green Seal – for cleaning products that are actually safer for the environment
- Forest Stewardship Council logo – for paper and wood products
However, there is one you probably want to avoid — the Sustainable Forestry Initiative logo — because it was created by the timber lobby who most definitely do not have the environment in their best interest.
These are just a few of the ways you can be sure that the products you are buying really help the environment.
As with any product, when in doubt, do a little research before purchasing it.
You never know when you might purchase something that is not only unsafe for the environment but unsafe for you and your family.