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The wonderful world of greenwashing

Green? It's the color of money.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 the Six Sins of Greenwashing by TerraChoice, which found that 99% of 1,018 common consumer products randomly surveyed for a study were guilty of greenwashing.


4 Comments on The wonderful world of greenwashing

  1. ” The label says “ingredients from the earth.” Well, guess what, everything on the planet is from the earth (unless it’s made of asteroids).”
    As His Mobiness is fond of noting, “We are all made of Stars…”

  2. We’ve built ecolabelling.org to try and combat greenwashing through better disclosure and information sharing on ecolabels like those outlined in this article.
    It’s now the largest ecolabel resource in the World. Comments welcome!

  3. Happy Earth Day–Everything Green is Good!!!1

  4. And lest we forget “Renewable Power!” I’ve mentioned several times here that “solar farms” kill off MORE wilderness than Coal Mines and Plants (an average of 10,000 acres per)! They suck tens of millions of gallons of scarce desert groundwater to wash their mirrors, and completely destroy and disrupt migration paths, habitats, and ecosystems. They require thousands of miles of new high-voltage transmission lines in earthquake and fire-prone desert areas, which require thousands of people to be yanked out of their homes with eminent domain, and over-centralize the grid so it is far more unreliable, unsustainable and subject to manipulation.
    Meanwhile, solar PV and thermal (and small wind) on PREVIOUSLY DEVELOPED LAND is a fantastic option, especially when combined with passive solar and conservation measures. NO water waste, NO wilderness killed, NO new transmission lines, NO eminent domain, NO hijacking of our bills. Way more local skilled labor jobs, greatly reduced thermal “heat island” effects on roofs, and widespread civic participation, which has proven to be the greatest incentive to conservation.
    In fact, a large scale program (which could easily be implemented if all the money we flow to Big Energy were diverted back to us) would create enormous energy independence for ratepayers, and a profit for those who generate more power than they consume. All it would take is political will, and I really hope everyone will contact ALL their elected reps (Fed, State and Local) and demand that WE get some benefits in the renewable energy paradigm, instead of losing big, again, to Big Energy.
    We CANNOT afford to have a million or more acres of our (taxpayer-owned) wilderness permanently killed just to boost utility profits! Demand local, point of use systems, and insist that nature be left in peace…

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