Misleading with Green Product Claims


TerraChoice recently released a new report, The Sins of Greenwashing: Home and Family Edition, and published some interesting findings.  The company found that big-box retailers stock more "green" products and products with legitimate environmental claims than smaller boutique-style stores.  TerraChoice also found that over 95% of consumer products with a "green" claim are committing at least one "sin" of greenwashing. 

That's a serious problem, especially considering the seven greenwashing sins: the hidden trade-off, no proof, vagueness, worshipping false labels, irrelevance, fibbing, and the lesser of two evils.  

As background for the study, TerraChoice studied 5,296 products in the U.S. and Canada with an environmental claim.  The study included consumer electronics, cleaning products, and building and construction products, among others.

However, building and construction products were about five times more likely to be sin-free. The most common sin found in this group was the hidden trade-off, while the most common single-benefit claims relate to air quality, energy, and recycled content. 

TerraChoice found about 73% more "green" products on the market today than in 2009, and the overall amount of greenwashing has declined slightly in the same amount of time.  In addition, third-party labels help prevent greenwashing, but there's still some problems among certified products. 

[+] Download the Greenwashing Report 2010

Credit: TerraChoice.

  • http://www.valanduseconstructionlaw.com Timothy R. Hughes

    interesting report – aren’t they violating their own vagueness standard by refusing to identify the details and allowing the public to verify their position, facts and analysis though?

  • ottawa cleaning

    Maybe these products are more “green” then the average cleaning product but the amount of effort and product that needs to be used to clean when the product is “green” just isn’t worth it in my oppinion anyways.

  • The Leed’r

    More fodder for the right. We are trying to do good here, HELLO!

    Check out the LEED’r http://proseedjournal.blogspot.com/

  • Fr33enrgy

    Terrachoice is a for-profit company that created a bias marketing campaign to push Ecologo (the logo they manage). My wife bought some Ecologo products a while back and noticed greenwashing on the labels. What a farce; that makes Terrachoice and Ecologo sinners! This prompted me to check out Ecologo standards. I was surprised to learn that they are so old they cannot really represent environmental leadership anymore?! Others only have a single criterion statement (another sin); where is the life-cycle approach they promised on their website (another lie)?! Check out their website and download the standards and see for yourself… Shame on Terrachoice for pointing the finger at others, when they cannot deliver. Most eco-labels are not worth paying extra money, because we have no idea of the real environmental savings. All we have here is hypocrisy, marketing spin, and a very bad marketing campaign. It’s all a scam. Beware!

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