Going green the wrong wayTuesday, June 02, 2009 By Californian Staff
Nowadays, anything labeled as “environmentally friendly” is flying off the shelves. As “going green” becomes an ever more popular trend, consumers fail to realize that many products they buy have little environmental benefit. This so-called “greenwashing” was at the center of a study recently conducted by TerraChoice, an environmental marketing consulting firm. By evaluating over 2,000 different cosmetics, household and kids products, TerraChoice found that only 2 percent of those advertised as “green” made legitimate claims. As in most advertising campaigns, corporations present their goods in such a way that will appeal to the public. In greenwashing, companies frequently mislead buyers about the environmental advantages of the product or company by using vague phrases such as “all natural” or providing environmental claims that have not been verified by a third party, among other tactics. Unfortunately, these techniques have proved to be overwhelmingly effective. Consumers often don’t give a second thought to the claims made by companies. What is worse, most people who purchase the so-called green products, ranging from T-shirts to toothpastes, aren’t willing to make the necessary lifestyle changes to accompany their green efforts. A tote bag, for example, that was made with “organic cotton” in an “environmentally neutral” factory has no environmental benefit whatsoever when it’s owner drives a gas-guzzling Hummer and keeps the lights in their home on 24/7. Even choosing to purchase a hybrid SUV will not solve the problem of climate change, no matter what car companies may advertise. That is not to say that easy changes in one’s daily routine cannot make a great positive impact on the environment. By simply turning off computers and other electronics that are not in use, people can prevent thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere each year. Recycling both paper and electronics, as well as using less hot water, are two other important changes that have a much greater and far-reaching effect than any falsely labeled bottle of “environmentally friendly” dish washing liquid ever could. Going green does not begin with people changing fashion styles or by blindly following a trend, but by changing the way they live.