Greenwashing: Contaminating Our Consumption

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Greenwashing is the practice of making products seem more environmentally friendly than they are, via advertising and misleading product labels. Terms such as “natural” and “green” have essentially lost their meaning due to many companies’ misuse of them on labels. Unfortunately, the practice of greenwashing is causing consumers to pay more money for products they believe to be healthier and more sustainable, when in reality they’re no better than conventional products.

RAID - Raid Earthblends Multibug Killer - 258949 - Home Depot Canada

“It’s greenwashing when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact.”

There are a few different tactics that can be utilized when it comes to greenwashing our products. Often, companies will claim that a product is “green” based on just a few relatively sustainable characteristics, without taking into account the rest of the manufacturing process. Other popular gambits include: irrelevant claims (such as “CFC-free” – CFCs are illegal anyway), making claims in order to distract from the greater environmental impacts, and outright lying.

If you’re curious about a product’s claims to sustainability (e.g. tissue products claiming that a percentage of the product is post-consumer recycled content), look into the product and see if you can find evidence to back these claims. There are plenty of products on the market with no proof.

On a personal note, I’ve been using Organix shampoo for years. Until recently, I actually thought it was organic (hah!).

While it has “sustainable” packaging and doesn’t contain sulfates… there’s plenty that makes Organix shampoo just as damaging as conventional shampoos.  This product line contains a plethora of synthetic ingredients that are linked to chemicals that have been associated with early onset of puberty, obesity, and some cancers; they can also provoke allergic reactions and asthma attacks.

So what do you do? Most importantly, read the ingredients of the products you purchase. If it’s claiming to be “natural” yet you cannot pronounce most of the ingredients, I’d look for an alternative. Research products beforehand if you can. If you’re curious whether or not a product of yours has been greenwashed, check this website:   http://www.greenwashingindex.com/ads/

Sources:

http://www.greenwashingindex.com/about-greenwashing/

http://sinsofgreenwashing.org/findings/the-seven-sins/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mindy-pennybacker/greenwashing-emalice-in-w_b_489256.html

Photos:

http://www.homedepot.ca/product/raid-earthblends-multibug-killer/917592

http://www.vivawoman.net/2011/11/08/review-organix-cherry-blossom-ginseng-shampoo/

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