Green is big business these days and some companies are taking advantage by making their products sound eco-friendly when they really are not. It’s called “greenwashing” and it’s a growing problem. Most greenwashing terms sound attractive to eco-conscious shoppers when in reality they are vague, misleading or meaningless. A recent study showed a whopping 95 percent of green product claims are inaccurate. Here are Terri’s Top 5 misleading green labels and how you can avoid being fooled.
1. Green and Eco-Friendly
These labels break the biggest rule of greenwashing because they are simply vague green- related terms that mean nothing. Products labeled ‘green’ and ‘eco-friendly’ are not required to include any proof. Be wary of special stamps and labels. There are hundreds of ‘eco-labels’ out there, most of which are unreliable and have no third party validation. Instead of “green”, look for specific wording like “made with recycled material” or “recyclable”.
Don’t be fooled. Biodegradable does not necessarily mean eco-friendly. Biodegradable is not a regulated term and simply implies the product or packaging is capable of breaking down. The problem is that most biodegradable products will never break down in a landfill where the essentials of decomposition (air, light and a heat source) are missing, Trash sent to the landfill is compacted daily and covered with clay and dirt. Most biodegradable products will, however, decompose in a properly maintained compost pile.
Many foods labeled ‘natural’ are still filled with very unnatural ingredients that are genetically modified. There is no federal regulation when it comes to products with a natural label. Instead look for the USDA organic label. There are fixed and regulated standards for organic certification so you know the product you are buying was not made using artificial chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides. The organic label also guarantees that the product has not been genetically modified.
The phrase ‘made from recycled content’ requires further investigation. Just because it says so on the label does not mean that the entire product was made using recycled materials. Check the label to determine how much of the product is actually made from recycled material. “Post consumer” content reflects materials generated from consumer recycling programs. “Post industrial” content is produced from manufacturing waste and cannot include scraps from the factory floor.
Like other labels, there are no specific standards for the non-toxic claim. Toxic products that can cause injury or illness must be labeled by law. However, just because a product does not meet the meaning of ‘toxic’ does not mean it isn’t harmful. A product labeled non-toxic could be harmful if overused or used at higher than normal concentrations.
Source: Do Your Part Green Living
See What does ‘Green’ really mean? and remember this information the next time you are bombarded with ‘green marketing’. Beware of over-emphasis of the ‘eco-friendly’ attributes of a product or service and realize that truly environmentally friendly products are usually endorsed or used by well-respected, eco-conscious people and organizations.
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