Get ready for ‘The Green Police’

Health and environmental groups and government agencies are checking up on companies’ claims that their products and services are “green.”

These groups are accusing companies of “greenwashing.”

What’s greenwashing? It’s the claim that a company is disingenuously spinning its products or services as environmentally friendly.

A new report, Understanding and Preventing Greenwash: A Business Guide, warns companies against creating marketing with warm-and-fuzzy environmental imagery that doesn’t match actual products or services.

The report lists these marketing mistakes (that aren’t always deliberate):

  • flowery language that has no real meaning, such as “eco-friendly,” or can’t be backed up with hard data
  • irrelevant claims, such as morphing a minor green aspect into a major consumer benefit
  • jargon that only experts understand
  • fake third-party verifications or endorsements, and
  • illogical green claims, such as a green cigarette.

Meanwhile, government officials are taking aim at green claims as well.

Example: Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett is warning consumers to be wary of green marketing claims by home contractors. These contractors in Pennsylvania now have to register with the state and be able to back up energy efficiency claims made to homeowners.

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