Dont believe what you see when it comes to being green – Environment – The Independent.
Following a proposed revision to the American Federal Trade Commission‘s green advertisingguidelines, the creators of the Greenwashing Index and other organizations offer advice to consumers wanting to “buy green.”
On October 6 the Federal Trade Commission in the United States proposed an update to its guidelines on green advertising, insisting on stricter controls for companies using environmentally friendly claims such as “renewable energy,” “renewable materials” and “carbon offsetting” amongst others.
The new guidelines are designed to prevent companies from misleading consumers through advertising. Until the regulations come into force, organizations such as independent environmental advertising watchdog the Greenwashing Index are offering advice to consumers for what to watch for.
For shoppers in the USA, the Greenwashing Index publishes rankings of the integrity of US companies’ adverts online which can be viewed at http://www.greenwashingindex.com/ads.php. For customers based outside of the United States, the organization offers the following advice for rating a company’s environmental advertising claims:
1. Do you believe the words used in the advert, or does it appear that the company is trying to make you believe its green claims?
2. Do you think the images are being used in a misleading way; for example, is there a little too much focus on natural images?
3. Does the ad make a claim that seems vague or impossible to prove?
4. Do you believe it is actually possible for the company to do the things it is claiming? Is the company exaggerating its environmental credentials?
5. Does the ad leave out basic or important information? For example does the ad focus on one particular aspect of the brand’s eco-credentials while not mentioning possible environmentally damaging production methods?
Following these guidelines consumers are then advised to score the advertisement on a scale of 1-5, 1 being authentic, 5 being fraudulent.
Independent organization Climate Counts allows consumers to view the “climate scores” of global brands, companies or products, while the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, which ranks companies on their sustainable business practices and provides insights into the world’s most “sustainable” and environmentally friendly companies, is available to view online.
Information about the Federal Trade Comission can be found at:http://www.ftc.gov/index.shtml
For information about Climate Counts see: http://www.climatecounts.org/
To view the 2010 Dow Jones Sustainability Index see: http://www.sustainability-index.com/07_htmle/reviews/review2010.html
- Anti-Greenwashing Leaders React to FTC Green Guides Environmental Marketing Crackdown (eon.businesswire.com)
- FTC Cracking Down on Greenwashing (fastcompany.com)
- Is Your Product Really Eco-Friendly? (inc.com)