Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's Too Easy To Be Green

There was an article in the April 2, 2009 Wall Street Journal entitled What Do Labels Really Tell You? - As Eco-Seals Proliferate, So Do Doubts by Gwendolyn Bounds. From the article:
As green marketing has proliferated, so has the number of "eco-labels" competing to be the environmental equivalent of a Good Housekeeping seal of approval. According to the Web site ecolabelling.org, there are more than 300 such labels putting a green stamp on everything from cosmetics and seafood to bird-friendly coffee...

Some label programs...require independent verification of product manufacturers' green claims. But many others don't, partly because of cost and manpower, they say.

The result: increasing confusion among consumers about the veracity of green marketing promises and a growing sense that the federal government may need to take a stronger role in shaping standards people widely recognize and trust...

Some advocating a federal role point to organic food as a potential model; under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "National Organic Program," the government now sets labeling and certification standards. But with food, it took decades of competing efforts in the private marketplace and at the state level...

At the heart of the dilemma: What does it really mean to be green? Is having some recycled content enough, and if so, how much? Is something biodegradable still green if it travels a thousand miles to reach shelves? And if a green product doesn't perform as well as its nongreen peers, is it really preferable?

Equally important: Who, if anyone, should ensure green claims are valid? A soon-to-be-released study...found that in every product category, there was "green-washing" -- ranging from outright lying about green claims to simply providing no proof.

The most useful information was the sidebar, Green-Label Roadmap.
These 15 green-label programs are recognized as good benchmarks by experts and retailers such as Green Depot and Office Depot. They include:
Cradle to Cradle *
Carpet and Rug Institute's Green Label/Green Label Plus **

*Article cites http://www.c2ccertified.com/, which was not working as of this writing.
**Article cites main page http://www.carpet-rug.org

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