Consumers urged to scrutinize ‘eco-friendly claims’

Posted on March 10, 2008. Filed under: greenwashing |

Some are for real, but some are ‘greenwashing’
AS INTEREST IN GREEN ISSUES reaches a white-hot pitch, government and industry are jumping on the sustainability bandwagon — touting “natural,” “biodegradable” and “environmentally friendly” practices and products.

Often the claims are true. But sometimes, more money and energy is expended on trumpeting eco-friendly practices than in actually making those commitments a reality — a practice known as greenwashing.

Is the color green a cover-up, or is it a transparent window for environmentally friendly activities?

It’s no wonder that many are jumping on the bandwagon. Going green can add to the credibility of local governments, reflecting their commitment to stewardship of the environment and citizens’ interests.

As far as businesses are concerned, the growing market for purchasing decisions based on the environmental and social impact of products and manufacturers hit $209 billion in the U.S. in 2005, according to the Pennsylvania-based Natural Marketing Institute.

But inflated or false claims have become such a concern that the Federal Trade Commission, which regulates advertising claims, began a series of hearings in January into green marketing, concerned over the “heightened potential for deception,” according to Deborah Platt Majoras, its chairwoman.

A greenwashing controversy hit Oakland-based Clorox, maker of its signature bleach and other cleaning products, in late 2007 and early 2008.

Clorox acquired eco-friendly



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