A new study shows that 95 percent of products that are marketed as ‘green” are using misleading or inaccurate claims. The term for this is “Greenwashing” which is a term commonly used to describe environmental claims on products that are unproven.
Additionally these products use terms that are extremely vague such as “natural” or “earth friendly”. Some state that they have been certified organic, when in fact they have not.
There are Six Sins of Greenwashing and they are:
1. The sin of the hidden tradeoff – suggesting a product is “green” based on a single environmental attribute, without attention to other important environmental issues.
2. The sin of no proof – any environmental claim that cannot be substantiated by easily accessible supporting information or by a third-party certificaiton.
3. Sin of Vagueness – every claim that is so poorly defined or broad that its real meaning is likely to be misunderstood by the intended consumer.
4. The Sin of Irrelevance – making an envirionmental claim that my be truthful but is unimportant and unhelpful for consumers seeking environmentally preferably products.
5. The Sin of Lesser of Two Evils – “green” glaims that may be true within the product category, but that risk distracting the consumer from the greater environmental impacts of the category as a whole.
6. The Sin of fibbing – making environmental claims that are simply not true.
A misleading “green” advertising technique that I see a lot is saying on a label that the container is made from post consumer content. The biggest offender I’ve seen do this is Coca-cola. The Coca-cola company has made a positive step in using renewable plant material in the manufacturing of its bottles, but the labels read “up to 30% plant-based 100% recyclable bottle. The first half of this claim is misleading because as long as the label says “up to,” the bottle can contain any amount of plant material, even if the amounts are negligible. The second half is misleading because it suggests false improvement: coke bottles have always been 100% recyclable.
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