Greenwashing: Secrets and Lies
As I take baby steps toward a greener me, I've been reading product labels in an effort to make safer choices. So I was outraged to learn of the secrets and lies that marketers have been perpetrating.
According to a new study, companies hungry for our "green" dollars are making unsubstantiated environmental claims in a practice called "greenwashing." Most shocking is the report's assertion that all those claims about "safe," "BPA and phthalates-free" plastic baby bottles, toys, and pacifiers are for the most part for the birds. That's right: We've been tricked into sticking toxins back into our kids' mouths.
As reported in The Wall Street Journal, more than 95 percent of the some 5,000 consumer products examined by TerraChoice, the environmental-marketing company that issued the study, were found to be "fibbing about or having no proof of environmental claims, vague or poorly defined marketing language, such as 'all-natural,' and [using] fake labels designed to imply a product has third-party certification or endorsement of its claims." The report says not one of the "green" toys now flooding the market was free of greenwashing, and that less than 1 percent of baby products were "sin free."
All this disturbing news only drives home the message made by Annie Leonard in her latest "Story of Stuff" vlog. As Leonard points out, no matter how hard we as individuals try to make safe choices, we need our leaders in Washington to take a cue from Canada -- which is well on its way to banning bisphenol A (BPA) after officially declaring it a toxin -- and get busy protecting us, too.
Right now, the Safe Chemicals Act of 2010 is stalled in Congress amid opposition from industry groups. Please join Seventh Generation as we push to make desperately needed chemical reform a reality.
Clearly, it's also time to beef up marketing guidelines to prevent companies from making misleading environmental claims. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is inviting our comments on its proposal to do just that. Go there to register your support.