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Beware Of Greenwashing
From Hot Trend: Green is the New Black
August, 2009

Beware Of Greenwashing

As the green movement has picked up speed, many suppliers in the ad specialty market have introduced new lines of eco-friendly items. However, some are just using marketing efforts to say their products are green, when in fact, they’re not any more eco-friendly than other items in their product lines. Here are four tips from Colette Chandler, green product expert and founder of The Marketing Insider (www.marketing-insider.com), for differentiating a supplier of true eco-friendly products from a supplier with marketing claims that could be classified as greenwashing:

1. Look at ingredients. Labels can be very deceiving. There’s a lot of health-oriented products out there like lip balm or lotion that say “organic” on the label, but that doesn’t prove it’s organic – that all the ingredients are sustainable. Ask questions about where products are sourced, how they’re made and what their true ingredients are.

2. Examine packaging. Sometimes the ingredients might be environmentally friendly, but the container itself might not be. Let’s say a product comes inside a hard box, but to keep the box closed, there’s a plastic ribbon around it. Things like that are often overlooked.

3. Review the manufacturing process. Sometimes the process is worse than the outcome. How wasteful was it? Was it harmful to the environment? For things made with bamboo, there are a lot of questions about the process vs. the outcome.

4. Consider shipping distance. How far did each ingredient travel, and how far did the final product travel? If suppliers have products that are sourced overseas, there’s a huge carbon footprint. What are the suppliers doing to offset that, or what can the distributor do to offset that? In this case, maybe using a more local supplier is the way to go. – Shane Dale
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