Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ever Been "Green Washed?"

Every trend seems to bring out the scam artists, and the green movement is no different. Eco-friendly consumers try to buy organic products, use pure cleaning products and make changes in order to protect the environment. But you have to watch out for the "eco-fakes."

What is "Greenwashing?"
It's when companies promote the benefits of a product as being eco-friendly when, in fact, it's not. Many times, companies will use the color green, the term "green," or pictures of nature that elude to the fact that there is an environmentally friendly component to their product.

Protect Yourself
Be sure to carefully read your product labels. Most importantly, look for third party certification that verifies a company's claim.

Regarding organic food, look for the the USDA Organic seal. This seal verifies that only companies that have been evaluated and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and meets their guidelines.

For cleaning products and other chemicals, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a Design for the Environment indicating that the least poisonous materials were used during the manufacturing process.

Where to Get Help
A number of online activist organizations and government agencies offer more information and provide third-party verification regarding whether a product is truly green. Here they are:
  • Global Ecolabelling Network --
  • Office of the Federal Environment Executive (OFEE) --
  • U.S. Dept. of Agriculture -- (search for "National Organic Program")
  • EPA's Design for the Environment --
  • Green Seal --
  • EcoLogo Program --
So be on the lookout for greenwashing and make sure your products are truly green.

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  1. It's important to keep in mind that many small and local farmers can't afford the USDA Organic certification even if they do meet the organic guidelines.

  2. Very true! We buy our produce from a local farmer's share, so we know exactly what we're getting.