So I've been thinking a lot about greenwashing lately. Greenwashing is the practice of marketing that your products or services are "green" without actually making a commitment to practice sound, sustainable business practices. With all the buzz words around getting so much hype, how do I tell if the product or company is "environmentally friendly" or "sustainable" or "green" or "eco-friendly" or "eco-conscious" or "energy efficient" (you get the idea). AND how do we, as those that are trying to live a little lighter on the earth, keep from being lumped in with the greenwashing crowd if we miss a part of the puzzle in our daily lives? (I don't know about you, but some days, its hard to live in the most eco friendly way, there are only so many eco-issues that I can keep track of at one time)
In the confusing world of green marketing, I'd like to offer this: educate yourself about one issue at a time and start checking into claims of that issue. If a company is making a specific claim about your current pet issue, check up on it. If a product claims to be "made of recycled content" (my latest pet issue) make sure that it actually is (I found out that the only regulation for that is 100% recycled content, so if a product has 1%, it can label itself as "made from recycled materials," a little tricky if you ask me!)
As for local businesses making green advertisements, look at their actions and not just their ads. Sustainability statements are great for that, but not all businesses have them, or even know that they should have them. If you're curious, ask. There are a lot of local folks that are doing the best they can and don't even realize that they're "eco-friendly." I, for one, am more satisfied by claims of "doing the best we can," because I know at least those claims are real.
The Guardian (a great UK news site) has just launched what should be an interesting look at the problem of greenwashing. I plan to make it part of my regular reading. You should consider it too.
Greening the valley one conversation at a time.