By Fredrica Syren:
Ever since my family and I went green and committed ourselves to reducing our carbon footprint and using only eco-friendly products, I have marveled at the way consumers’ high demand for greener choices has created the trend of more options for eco-friendly products. But, as a consumer, it’s easy to believe all the advertisements when, in fact, there is this sneaky little technique called “greenwashing” that you should look out for because not all products are equal, and some are not as environmentally friendly or advantageous as they say they are.
So, what exactly is “greenwashing,” you might wonder? The term refers to a company’s or a group’s misleading advertising of its products as good for the planet and good for consumers. Products promoted this way include personal care items, household cleaners, and many disposable commodities. Let’s not forget that the green way has created a huge market for green products but, in the end, all companies’ main goal is to make a profit. So, at best greenwashing is a ploy that unfortunately also might hurt the environment. So, a consumer fooled by the greenwashing technique might think they are doing something great when, in fact, it’s the opposite.
So, how do you avoid being greenwashed?
Read labels—Reading labels is so important when it comes to food, but also all other products like cleaning and personal hygiene merchandise. I always say the shorter the list, the better; and if you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it. If there is a new food item available, I will google any ingredient in it that I’m not familiar with because I can learn a lot quickly — what the ingredients are, or if there are any problems with them, for instance.
Learn about misleading words—”Natural” can mean a whole lot of things, and usually products are not as “natural” as we might think. “Free range” can mean that chickens are not cramped in a small cage but they still can be trapped inside, in inhumane conditions.
Learn about product certifications—Find some truly sustainable companies and know their certification logos.
Don’t get fooled by the images—Sure, the package is the color of nature and the baby looks very happy, but are those diapers truly eco-friendly? What is it that makes them so? It sounds great that an oil company is helping clean up wildlife trapped in an oil spill, but how green is their practice, really? Look beyond the image, and learn more before buying the product.
Make your own—This basically is the easy way to know how sustainable your products are and the very best way to avoid being fooled into buying something that harms the planet