How many ways are there to greenwash home-improvement products? To make toxic junk sound green? To put lipstick on a pig?
So very many! Here are a few:
• The packaging is made of recycled materials, but the garbage inside is toxic enough to kill a horse.
• The product is not so toxic, but the packaging is bulky enough to choke a landfill. (Costco, are you listening?)
• While the product is grown or made in the U.S., it’s shipped to China for packaging.
• The wood product is from a “managed” forest. But what that really means is they managed to clear-cut the forest.
• The label says “ingredients from the earth.” Well, guess what, everything on the planet is from the earth (unless it’s made of asteroids).
• The label says “contains organic ingredients.” But what percentage? Perhaps 000000.1%?
• The product is made of sustainable materials, and the packaging is minimal, and it’s made locally, but . . . the factory where it’s made has no natural light, bad air and wastes water and electricity.
• The product is made from recycled glass, but the energy used to melt down the glass would power a fleet of Hummers.
In other words, as greewashing proliferates, certification systems like GreenGuard and the Forest Stewardship Council become ever more important for those of us who really want to make a difference with our dollars.
Also, see Underwriter’s Laboratory’s Seven Sins of Greenwashing.