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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tips on How to Avoid Greenwashing

Tips on How to Avoid Greenwashing

On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, it's important to address Greenwashing, or the act of falsely marketing a product as environmentally sustainable when the product or manufacturing process is in fact not eco-friendly.

Petie Davis from NSF , an independent, not-for-profit organization, that certifies products and writes standards for sustainable products, food, water and consumer goods, give us tip on how to avoid greenwashing.

Tips to Avoid Greenwashing

1. Look for meaningful claims. Be cautious of products making generic claims of "100% natural” or “environmentally friendly" with no backup.

2. Avoid products that make irrelevant claims, i.e. that a product is "CFC-free" (CFCs were banned more than 20 years ago).

3. Look for a seal or certification mark from a recognized, independent third-party specializing in green claims. Check with the certifier to verify the product is truly certified.

4. Check out the product’s packaging. While a product may be green, is the packaging green as well and can it be disposed of in an environmentally safe way?

5. Don’t be mislead by pretty pictures or use of earth-friendly colors on product labels. Just because a product label shows a forest doesn’t mean the product inside is green.

6. Look at the ingredient list on the product. A long list of ingredients or ingredient names that are difficult to pronounce may be harmful to you or the environment.

7. Avoid products where fragrances are a key ingredient.

8. Read product usage instructions and avoid those that display warnings on the label, such as “caution” or “use in well-ventilated area,” which typically indicate that the product is hazardous to you and/or the environment.

9. Question percentage claims, such as “this product contains 50% more recycled content.” Fifty percent more than what?

10. Be cautious of hidden trade-offs. For example, many products today are more energy efficient but may still be produced from hazardous or non-recyclable materials.

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