I’ve learned a new word recently. Greenwashing. It’s a negative term meaning that a company isn’t telling the whole story about the environmental practices it’s claiming to have in it’s advertising. It can be very difficult to determine if greenwashing is happening. Fortunately, policies and guidelines are developing to catch the cheaters. The Federal Trade Commission organized a guide for the use of environmental marketing claims. Green Guide. It’s a little heavy for a quick skim but there are good examples. Take note however, that technologies and policies change and aren’t always updated in a timely manner. The guideline gives an example about caps on plastic water bottles not being recyclable but because the rest of the bottle is recyclable, then it is acceptable to label it as such. Recently though, technology has advanced in the recycling industry and the majority of centers are now recycling the caps. The FTC uses these guidelines to enforce it’s Federal Trade Commissions Act. There are many federal and state laws looking out for the correct use of environmental marketing.
Do you know about the Green Seal? This is a really great organization. Not to be confused with a green list, which SC Johnson lost a lawsuit over for false advertising. The Environmental Leader includes the SC Johnson case and many others.