Recognizing the Nine Types of Greenwashing

first_img2.) Lack of DefinitionMarketing for a product makes an environmental claim that sounds good to the consumer but is too vague or general. Examples: a product is described as being non-toxic or without hazardous chemicals, when these definitions are only meaningful in specific contexts — many chemicals are non-toxic to the touch but harmful to ingest, for example. A radiant barrier paint product is advertised as having an incredibly high R-value, but the ad neglects to mention that it only insulates that well when installed on NASA spacecraft that see thousands of degrees of temperature differences. 4.) The Non SequiturA company uses a valid claim about a product as the basis for a further claim that is not warranted, but may on its surface appear to be reasonable. Example: A manufacturer accurately claims that its product is resistant to mold growth, but also implies or states that thus using the product improves the health of occupants — a claim that has some logic, but that really needs to be evaluated separately. 1.) Green by AssociationA company slathers itself and its marketing thoroughly in environmental terms and images so that even if its products have no environmental benefits, consumers associate them with positive environmental attributes. Examples: Gas-guzzling cars and trucks pictured in remote natural settings, or housing developments named for natural features that they have destroyed, e.g., “Conifer Lane.” 7.) Rallying Behind a Lower StandardA product earns an apparently valid, third-party certification — but the product’s manufacturer or trade association had influenced the development of the relevant standard in a way that makes the certification less meaningful than it appears. Example: The forest products industry catches hell in the early 1990s for environmental damages caused by logging, but rather than join the rigorous green standard that has already been developed, the industry bands together to create its own program with similar, but much more vague standards. 3.) Unproven ClaimsEnvironmental claims are made by a company, but the company cannot or will not provide evidence to back them up. Examples: A company claims to have implemented a new manufacturing process to increase its product’s recycled content, but doesn’t certify the claim. A manufacturer claims to have eliminated hazardous ingredients from a product but claims that due to trade secrets, it can’t reveal any specifics. 9.) Outright LyingEither intentionally or inadvertently, a company bends the truth, or simply ignores it. Example: A company claims that a product is beneficial to the environment, when it’s actually just less bad. Or a manufacturer claims that its product contains recycled content based on reuse of scrap within a manufacturing line — but that actually doesn’t meet the definition of recycled.I want to thank Terrachoice, which publishes the “Seven Sins of Greenwashing,” for helping inspire this list, which Jennifer and I first wrote over three years ago for our article, Behind the Logos: Understanding Green Product Certifications. We like their list, too, but we see some distinctions that we like to highlight.What are examples of questionable green claims that you’ve seen recently? Want help evaluating them? Let me know.Tristan Roberts is Editorial Director at BuildingGreen, Inc., in Brattleboro, Vermont, which publishes information on green building solutions. You can learn more at www.BuildingGreen.com.Last week’s Energy Solutions post: New and Improved Cotton Insulation Still Doesn’t Workcenter_img 6.) Bait and SwitchA company heavily promotes the environmental attributes of a single product, while selling and manufacturing a bulk of otherwise similar products that lack the same environmental attributes. Example: A company sells cedar shingles that are certified as sustainably harvested, earning acclaim, but produces the product in such little volume at such an increased price that most of its sales resulting from the attention are for non-certified products. I am going to go out on a limb here, but I would bet that sometime in the last 24 hours you have received a marketing message centered around how “green,” how “environmentally friendly,” or (if it’s really serious), how “sustainable” something is.Whether or not we believe in these claims is a matter of some debate. The 2011 Cone Green Gap Trend Tracker found that an 97% of Americans believe they know what common environmental marketing claims such as “green” or “environmentally friendly” mean. Apparently we have seen enough of these claims to know what they’re all about.But do we? Our interpretations are often inaccurate, according to the researchers. More than two in five of us (41%) erroneously believe that these terms mean a product has a beneficial impact on the environment. Only about one in three (29%) understand that these terms more accurately describe products with reduced environmental impact compared with competing products.That study seems to indicate a lot of willingness to believe what the marketers tell us. However, a study from the U.K. has a somewhat different story to tell. In that study, by the Carbon Trust, only 7% of respondents take companies at their word when they say that they are reducing their climate impacts. More than half (53%) say they are concerned that companies make one-time improvements to win publicity, before returning to business as usual. Did the study ask different questions, or are the Brits more skeptical?Sorting out the green from the greenwash has become a necessity for U.S. builders and designers. To help, my colleague Jennifer Atlee and I have developed a guide to common problems: we cleverly named it “Nine Types of Greenwashing” when we included it in our dare-I-say essential report on green building product certifications. We also have eagle eyes for these types of issues when we are setting standards and selecting green products for our GreenSpec product guide. Here are the nine types. 8.) Reluctant EnthusiastA company lobbies against new environmental measures, claiming that they will be too costly. Particularly if it’s losing the battle however, it  hedges its bets, publicly embracing similar measures — while continuing to resist them behind the scenes. Example: “Beyond Petroleum.” 5.) Forgetting the Life Cycle, a.k.a. The Red HerringA company chooses one easily understood aspect of a product’s environmental profile to improve and highlight, while ignoring other significant impacts — sometimes out of ignorance; sometimes as an intentional effort to divert attention. Example: A company touts the high recycled content in its countertops, but it uses a lot of embodied energy and carbon to make them, and uses binders with human health impacts.last_img read more

a month agoWatford boss Sanchez Flores: We must be careful with Welbeck

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Watford boss Sanchez Flores: We must be careful with Welbeckby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveWatford boss Quique Sanchez Flores won’t rush Danny Welbeck’s comeback.Welbeck, who has recovered from a broken ankle, scored his first Hornets goal in the 2-1 Carabao Cup win over Swansea on Tuesday night.He has played the full 90 minutes in both of Watford’s cup matches this term but made just two substitute appearances in the Premier League.“I said two weeks ago we have a plan for him,” said Sanchez Flores. “We are taking care with him and we are very passionate about him coming back to the team.“I just want the fans to see the good version of Danny, not the kind of Danny who goes to the pitch with some pain. I want Danny 100 per cent so we can enjoy this Danny.” last_img read more

22 days agoCrouch questions Liverpool nerves after RB Salzburg win

first_imgCrouch questions Liverpool nerves after RB Salzburg winby Ansser Sadiq22 days agoSend to a friendShare the lovePeter Crouch has questioned Liverpool’s nerves after Wednesday’s 4-3 win over RB Salzburg in the Champions League.The European champions blew a three-goal lead at Anfield when Erling Braud Haaland equalised for the visitors.And Crouch says the performance was “absolutely mental” from his former side.”It was mental, absolutely mental,” Crouch said on BT Sport.”Liverpool were flying, playing some of the best attacking football I have seen from them this season. And then the second half, I don’t even know where to begin. 3-3, I just couldn’t have seen it, and then Salah pops up with the winner.”An incredible match, highly entertaining, but for the wrong reasons for Liverpool in the end. They got a bit nervy Liverpool, you have to say.”Once the first goal went in, then the second, Fabinho, whose normally so calm on the ball, was passing it out of play, they weren’t as intricate as they were in the first half.”So it definitely affected them but the fourth goal killed them off and then they controlled the game and managed it out.” About the authorAnsser SadiqShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

17 days agoReal Sociedad midfielder Odegaard: Real Madrid in regular contact

first_imgReal Sociedad midfielder Odegaard: Real Madrid in regular contactby Carlos Volcano17 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveReal Sociedad midfielder Martin Odegaard says parent club Real Madrid are in regular contact.The Norwegian has revealed that Los Blancos are content with his performances so far this season and they have sent him congratulatory messages.”I am in contact with Real Madrid, as sometimes they write to me to tell me how they see me,” he told Eurosport Norway.”They have congratulated me and praised my good start in the league.”They have told me that they are happy with me.”Odegaard went on to express his desire to see out his two-year loan agreement with the Basque side, before returning to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.”The idea is to respect [the loan deal],” he said.”I am happy at the team, and so I want to continue here until my two years end.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more