As a director of sustainability, other business leaders and consumers often ask me “How can I tell if my product’s environmental claims or those on other products are true?” This is actually a good question!
Many products are labeled as “green” or advertised as being better for the environment, yet these labels and ads can be misleading. Many times these products do not address the hidden trade-offs of the product, a practice called “green washing.”
One way that companies and consumers can avoid green washing products is to follow the Federal Trade Commission’s Guide for the use of Environmental Marketing Claims, commonly referred to as the FTC Green Guide. Written in common language and updated in 2012, the FTC Green Guide is what we send to retailers when promoting environmental programs such as our Gray is the New Green Bag and our Bag-2-Bag recycling program. Canada’s Competition Bureau publishes a similar document titled Environmental Claims: A Guide for Industry and Advertisers commonly referred to in the US as the Canadian Green Guide.
If you find these guides interesting, check out this blog post I wrote a while back that takes a deeper dive into the green guides! It is important for companies and consumers to understand the real environmental impacts of various products.