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The Green Life: Watch Out For Greenwashing

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September 30, 2009

Watch Out For Greenwashing

Consumers must watch out for greenwashing

With more Americans buying green products, it's becoming clear that people are looking for ways to minimize their impact. However, with green consumerism becoming a growing business sector, shoppers should watch out for companies that resort to greenwashing – false marketing of a product's supposed environmental benefits.

According to a study by Grail Research, the vast majority of U.S. consumers are committed to buying green products but nearly two-thirds feel that price is the biggest deterrent to green purchasing. Product labels and word of mouth, the study found, have bigger influences than television advertising and print media.

Through all the hype of protecting the environment, though, a company's true colors can be lost in translation. That is why, for a high percentage of people intent on going green, tools like the Greenwashing Index can  be valuable; the site allows visitors to post ads guilty of greenwashing and rate them on a one-to-five scale, with one being “authentic” and five “bogus."

Another Web site offering insightful tips about how to figure out whether a company is greenwashing is The Seven Sins of Greenwashing, published by TerraChoice, an environmental-marketing company that released a 2009 Greenwashing Report.

Moral of the story: When shopping, don't be satisfied with a simple “green” tag. Extra research on products and companies might be a bit of work, but if you truly want to live green, supporting truly environmentally friendly companies is a good place to start.

--Michael Mullaley

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