We tend to throw around words and phrases like “go green” and “eco-friendly” but what do they really mean? Many of us gravitate toward product claims with the best intentions to do right by the environment. But how do we know what’s all hype and what’s the real deal?
Brush up on your green knowledge. Last October, the FTC revised their Green Guides to keep marketers from making deceptive claims. For example, some product claims boast that they’re made with recycled content, but the environmental costs of using recycled materials actually outweighs the benefits, which makes those “green” claims misleading.
Spot greenwashing attempts. You know how they say don’t judge a book by its cover? Well, the same goes for product packaging. Greenwashing happens when a company adds a few flowers to the label or changes to a neutral color scheme in order to attract eco-conscious costumers without really living up to the impression they’re giving.
Analyze the claims. Some packages may advertise “green” claims, but what does that really mean? Some words like “organic” are closely monitored and have to meet strict conditions to earn the title, but others are not. Look for complete disclosure on the packaging or website of what these claims really mean.
Then look for specifics. The FTC Green Guides discourages marketers from making broad claims like “green” or “eco-friendly” which are tough to prove. Instead, look for products that list specific benefits like “100% plant-based soap.”
Look for the DfE label. The DfE label is designated for products that meet the standards of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment program. It denotes that a product can help protect the environment and is safer for families. There are over 2,800 products that have earned the right to wear this logo.
Final tip: Ever wonder about those refillable ink cartridges? They’re good for the environment and in some cases, your pocketbook. Warehouse stores, office supply stores and some drugstores have ink refill centers—just be aware that using third party ink could affect your warranty.