Stop the Greenwashing! 5 Terms You Need to Know

greenwashingGoing “green” is such a popular trend today, so much so that many businesses abuse the term in order to win your business.  They know you are concerned about the environment and that you are more likely to buy a product if you’re under the impression that it’s environmentally friendly.  Obviously, there are some truly excellent eco-friendly appliances and other products available today, but you need to be able to tell the difference between bogus claims and authentic green products and businesses. Becoming familiar with the following 5 terms should help you make informed choices.

Greenwashing – “Whitewashing” is the term used to describe a company that attempts to conceal the truth from their customers.  The same is true of “greenwashing,” but it refers to dishonesty in terms of eco-friendliness.  A company may claim to offer a water saving dishwasher to gain your business even though their alleged “green dishwasher” uses no less water or energy than another dishwasher on the market.

Organic – A company that claims to sell an organic product is supposedly offering something with all-natural ingredients.  Chemicals, preservatives, and artificial colors are all synthetic.  Therefore, you can tell if you’ve come across a product that is falsely advertising its organic properties if you find synthetic ingredients on the label. Be sure to look for official certifications such as “USDA Certified Organic,” so you know the product has had to meet minimum standards to achieve the label.

greenwashingEco-Friendly – A product like an eco dishwasher has to earn the term “eco-friendly” based on various factors, such as how much energy it consumers, how much water it uses, and what it’s made of.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a regulation on who can call themselves eco-friendly, so the term is running rampant even though some businesses simply don’t deserve to use the phrase in their marketing.

Biotechnology – This refers to anytime DNA is manipulated in a living organism, whether it’s a plant or an animal.  The meat and produce you eat is not organic if the DNA has been changed to produce an altered product, such as over-large chicken breasts, seedless watermelon, or corn that is toxic to pests.  There is currently a huge debate about whether biotechnology is harmful to humans or the environment in the long run.

Hidden Trade-Off – The most common greenwashing sin is hiding the trade-off customers experience when they buy a company’s “green” product.  For example, paper that is manufactured from a sustainable forest may still need to be transported thousands of miles to reach you, which is not an eco-friendly practice.

The pitfalls of greenwashing are many, but you are encouraged to support companies that provide green products to the public.  Even if they are guilty of greenwashing, at least companies are trying, which is a step above those that are doing nothing at all to be eco-friendly.  To avoid falling into the trap of greenwashing, choose products with eco-labels or least those that provide the most comprehensive information about their product on the label.  Educate yourself and do a little research; doing so will provide the assurance that you are buying products that truly help the environment.  For information about an authentically green dishwasher and other appliances, visit www.askousa.com.

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