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95% Of Eco-Products Commit Greenwashing Sins

95% Of Eco-Products Commit Greenwashing Sins

A report recently released by TerraChoice found that over 95 percent of “green” home and family products on the market today employ misleading labeling and advertising tactics.

The study also found that big box retailers stock more “green” products that provide legitimate environmental certifications than smaller “green” boutique-style stores.

TerraChoice is a North American environmental marketing company and part of Underwriters Laboratories’ global network. These startling results were released as part of its third annual “The Sins of Greenwashing: Home and Family Edition” report.

Greenwashing is a problem across all industries, and has contributed to consumer skepticism about the wisdom of paying extra or going out of their way for products marketed as green. TerraChoice defines greenwashing as “the act of misleading consumers about the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.”

Researchers surveyed 5,296 products with environmental claims from retailers in the U.S. and Canada. Categories included baby care products, toys, office products, building and construction products, cleaning products, housewares, health and beauty products, and consumer electronics.

According to the report, the seven “sins of greenwashing” are:

1. Sin of the hidden trade-off
2. Sin of no proof
3. Sin of vagueness
4. Sin of irrelevance
5. Sin of lesser than two evils
6. Sin of fibbing
7. Sin of worshipping false labels

One positive finding was that overall, greenwashing has declined slightly since 2009, with 4.5 percent of products now “sin-free”, compared to only 2 percent in 2009. Consumers can be encouraged by the fact that marketers and product manufacturers are controlling their misleading impulses, with greenwashing down among those who have been focused on environmentally preferable practices longer than others.

If you’ve been making your shopping choices based on whether or not they have been certified by a third-party organization, you’re far less likely to be duped by a greenwashing claim, as the study found that more than 30 percent of products carrying seals of independent certification were completely “sin free.”

Read the full report here.

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Beth Buczynski

Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog or check out her blog.


+ add your own
8:26AM PST on Jan 17, 2014


8:25AM PST on Jan 17, 2014

Thank You !

8:22AM PST on Jan 17, 2014

Thanks for sharing!

5:25PM PDT on Aug 6, 2012


5:19PM PDT on Aug 6, 2012

Didn't know about this. Thanks for sharing.

8:15AM PDT on Jul 21, 2012

Thank you

7:29PM PDT on Apr 28, 2012

thanks for sharing this, going to have to check things more carefully

5:54AM PDT on May 3, 2011

Thanks for the article.

10:02AM PDT on Apr 23, 2011

To help the environment the most is having your utility co get thier energy from a greener source. If you live in CT,MD,PA,NJ or NYC you can do just that. Nothing changes on your bill and they still service you incase of power outages. The best part is it costs less then what you are paying now. So your helping the environment by going greener and putting some "green" back into your wallet. The company name is Viridian Energy. Power with purpose and hears my website for info and if you like you can become a customer as well. This company has stopped over 85 million lbs of carbon emissions from all their customers going greener!

8:27PM PST on Jan 13, 2011

Thanks for the article

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