Green-wash (green’wash’, -wôsh’) – verb: the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.
It’s hip to be green. Everywhere I look I see women clutching purses that say I AM NOT A PLASTIC BAG, or bumper stickers that read BE LOYAL, BUY LOCAL on the backs of shiny new Priuses (or is it Prii? I’ll save that debate for another time). It’s exciting that so many of us have taken an interest in protecting the environment; but with the eco-chic boom comes a new challenge for consumers.
I was in the supermarket recently and noticed how many products are in tan and green boxes these days. Everything from cereals to soaps have the words “natural” on them with little emblems of wheat or leaves that might give us a subconscious feeling that we are buying something eco-friendly. But when I looked closer I could only find vague evidence to support those claims. What exactly does “natural flavors” mean? Or how does one have an “organic experience” while washing their hair? It seems that Corporate America has a vested interest in convincing us that we are doing a good thing for the planet by buying their product. I think most of us have good intentions, but we still become victims of greenwashing all too often.
Lucky for us, there is an organization out there that is helping to sort out the fake green products from the real ones. EcoLogo, an organization founded by the Canadian government in the 80s, reviews bazillions of products in order to give consumers a better idea of what they are actually buying. They shed light on some of the most egregious forms of greenwashing and subsequently help us to make conscientious decisions about what to buy.
Here are some links to EcoLogo-certified water-related products:
• Showerheads: http://www.terrachoice-certified.com/en/certifiedgreenproducts/details.asp?product_type_id=47
• Septic tank: http://www.terrachoice-certified.com/en/certifiedgreenproducts/details.asp?product_type_id=177
• Hot water storage tanks: http://www.terrachoice-certified.com/en/certifiedgreenproducts/details.asp?product_type_id=18
I think from now on I’m going to make a more concerted effort to think critically about a product before I buy it so that I can avoid being a sucker in a marketing scheme.