‘Greenwashing’ creates confusion

Anyone who’s been shopping recently knows the overload of options available at your fingertips — whether it’s at the grocery store, the mall or even the local coffee shop, you have choices. Some of them claim to be “green.”

What “green” means, however, is to be determined. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a column last week on the confusion brought on by products that claim to be “eco-friendly.

The writer smartly notes:

“I’d like to buy greener products, but it’s hard to figure which they are. Is it the “all natural,” “entirely natural,” or “100% natural” food? Poison ivy and salmonella are natural, too.”

And therein, of course, lies the problem. Plenty of “green” marketing sounds good — great even — but without standards to go by, how do consumers know if the claims are supported by truth?

One example that comes to mind is the plastic water bottle. Coca Cola recently changed their plastic drink bottle to be made partially from plants — the advertising says up to 30 percent. Other water bottle manufacturers made similar changes, or are creating bottles with less plastic (read: bottles that are flimsier, essentially).

That’s really great, of course. But wouldn’t it be better for consumers to stop using plastic water and soda bottles altogether, and switch over to something reusable? Instead, consumers pat themselves on the back (and give a thumbs up to the corporations) because the case of water they go through each week is made with plants, or less plastic.

Have you run into situations where green marketing confuses you? Share your stories in the comments.

Sarah Chain

I'm an avid reader and book lover living and working in downtown York. Follow me on Twitter at @sarahEchain.

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  1. September 21, 2011

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