A new report released last week by consulting firm TerraChoice Environmental Marketing found that just 2% of the self-proclaimed "green" products on shelves in big box stores across North America live up to their sustainable claims. The firm accuses the manufacturers of the other 98% of so-called "green" consumer items tested to be guilty of "greenwashing," that is, misleading consumers about the environmental benefits of their products and/or practices.
The recently released report is an update of a similar study released in 2007. The firm found that while the number of legitimately green products in stores increased dramatically over the last two years, marketing claims on other products also became "more creative."
"The good news is that the growing availability of green products shows that consumers are demanding more environmentally responsible choices and that marketers and manufacturers are listening," reported Scott McDougall, TerraChoice "s CEO.
"The bad news is that TerraChoice’s survey of 2,219 consumer products in Canada and the U.S. shows that 98% committed
greenwashing and that some marketers are exploiting consumers" demand for third-party certification by creating fake labels or false suggestions of third-party endorsement," he added.
In putting together the report, TerraChoice researchers noted product details, claims, supporting information and manufacturers" offers of more information or support, and then tested the claims against best practice guidelines provided by national trade bureaus in Canada, Australia and the U.S., as well as against the standard for environmental labeling set by the International Organization for Standardization.