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Market News

 November 17, 2007
The Six Sins of Greenwashing

 Vancouver, Canada (GLOBE-Net) - The Six Sins of Greenwashing, a report released by TerraChoice, an environmental marketing agency that helps companies achieve sustainability, found that 99% of over 1,000 randomly sampled products made misleading claims about being environmentally friendly.

While generally praising the business sector for being conscious of the need to provide more environmentally-friendly products and services in the general marketplace, the report outlines six actions (or ‘sins’) that many companies take to make their products seem more environmentally friendly than they really are, (i.e. ‘greenwashing’).

"The products we surveyed made a total of 1,753 claims, and 99% per cent committed at least one of the Six Sins of Greenwashing," says TerraChoice President Scott McDougall. "The Six Sins of Greenwashing will equip consumers with tools to help figure out the truth about enviro-friendly products."

The greenwashing sins are:

1. Sin of the Hidden Trade-Off: e.g. "Energy-efficient" electronics that contain hazardous materials. 998 products reviewed (57% of all environmental claims) committed this Sin.

2. Sin of No Proof: e.g. Shampoos claiming to be "certified organic," but with no verifiable certification. 454 products (26% of environmental claims) committed this Sin.

3. Sin of Vagueness: e.g. Products claiming to be 100% natural when many naturally-occurring substances are hazardous, like arsenic and formaldehyde. Seen in 196 products (11%) of environmental claims.

4. Sin of Irrelevance: e.g. Products claiming to be CFC-free, even though CFCs were banned 20 years ago. This Sin was seen in 78 products (4% of environmental claims).

5. Sin of Fibbing: e.g. Products falsely claiming to be certified by an internationally recognized environmental standard like EcoLogo, Energy Star or Green Seal. Found in 10 products or less than 1% of environmental claims.

6. Sin of Lesser of Two Evils: Organic cigarettes or a hybrid-yet-inefficient SUV. This occurred in 17 products or 1% of environmental claims.

Consumers are inundated with products that make green claims," says McDougall. "Some are accurate, certified and verifiable, while others are just plain fibbing to sell products.

TerraChoice conducted the study because of the flood of green claims that many products make that may or may not be valid and take advantage of a more environmentally conscious society. TerraChoice seeks to educate shoppers and let them buy green with confidence.

Manufacturers and suppliers can request an assessment and EcoLogo certification in order to determine whether a product claims are valid or if they commit one of the Six Sins. Consumers can protect themselves by looking for the EcoLogo insignia on green; products or checking up on a products claims themselves.

To read the full report The Six Sins of Greenwashing, click here



For More Information: Canada News Wire (CNW)