Consumers demand eco-friendly products in hopes they are making better choices for the future. No one knows exactly how much effect “green” alternatives will have long term, but for now, the public has spoken—loudly.
Responding to these requests, companies have flooded the market with green alternatives in baby care, building and construction, cleaning products, paper products, electronics, health and beauty products, housewares, lawn and garden products, office products and more.
Greenwashing, or the practice of using deceptive claims to promote an environmentally friendly perception of a product or company, has become a big problem in the marketplace.
A 2010 report entitled “Sins of Greenwashing” by TerraChoice (now UL) cited a 152 percent increase in the number of “green” product offerings since 2008.
Since the horticulture industry is “green” by design, consumers may believe the choices they make while gardening are fundamentally better for the environment.
“Horticulture businesses need to be explicit in how they handle environmental claims,” said Michele Cuthbert, Founder and Creative Director of Baker Creative, a Central Ohio based marketing and public relations firm.
In October 2012, the Federal Trade Commission enacted new changes to their Green Guides, which include stricter guidelines to prevent greenwashing.
Some of the FTC’s changes include:
1. Make clear, qualified statements about the benefits that products or services will have on the environment. The statements should convey that a general environmental claim refers only to a specific and limited environmental benefit(s).
2. “Compostable” products or packaging must break down in approximately the same time as the materials with which it is composted.
3. Items labeled non-toxic should be safe for humans and the environment in general.
4. Items labeled as renewable materials must be clear about what they are, how they were sourced and why they are renewable.
5. Do not state items destined for landfills, incinerators, or recycling facilities are degradable. They will not decompose within a year so are not considered degradable.
For more tips on how to make and keep your business greenwash-free, please contact Baker Creative at Baker-Creative.com.
*FTC Green Guides information updated in July 2020.