In today’s increasingly eco-conscious world, corporations have realized the importance of being “green.” As consumers become more educated about the environment, their shopping lists naturally become more sustainable, forcing corporations to step up their environmental practices in order to appeal to customers in a tough economic market.
In an ideal world, corporations would take measurable steps to protect the environment. However, the reality is that many corporations have developed sneaky methods to disguise their environmentally destructive practices with green marketing tricks. Simple things like wrapping harmful products in recyclable packaging or using phony ‘natural’ logos, help products masquerade as eco-friendly. And the worst part is that these corporate greenwashing techniques are working.
Since 2007, in an effort to better understand the disturbing growth of greenwashing, TerraChoice Environmental Marketing has been tracking environmental claims made on products carried by many of America’s top ‘big box’ stores. The results of their studies are alarming. More than 95% of the 5,000+ products they investigated committed at least one Sin of Greenwashing, according to their 2010 Report.
Their research reveals that consumers genuinely want to make socially conscious purchases and they want to support companies who are making a real effort to help the environment, but more often than not they don’t know who to trust. It’s a big problem, and it’s not isolated to product packaging. It extends into television commercials, print advertisements and even websites.
When we first started thinking about .ECO, the environmental community’s new domain extension, one of our goals was to figure out how to do something about greenwashing online. So we consulted with TerraChoice expert Scot Case, who, after hearing about our idea for .ECO, came on board as one of our founding Community Council members.
“.ECO’s greatest gift to the world is a place to begin. So if I’m looking for good environmental information about companies, products or services, .ECO will be the first place I go.” -† Scot Case
We want .ECO to be a tool that confused consumers can use to help them verify the ‘eco’ claims made by corporations. We believe that ‘eco’ should stand for something, that it should be a trusted word used only by those willing to uphold the integrity of its meaning. In order to ensure that .ECO symbolizes a true commitment to supporting the environment, we believe that before anyone owns a .ECO domain, they should have to publicly share their environmental efforts. Finally, consumers will have one place where they can learn about the environmental claims made by the companies they purchase from.
.ECO holds the potential to become one of the online world’s greatest tools for environmentalism, and in doing so will help ensure that ‘eco’ remains a trusted badge for our community for generations to come.
Photo credit: iStock
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