“Greenwashing” is defined as the “practice of making unsubstantiated or misleading claims as to the environmental benefits of a product, service technology, or practice.” Consumers are starting to figure out that greenwashing is rampant; even to the point one of the most respected certification organizations is openly questioning how much damage has been irreparably done to the credibility of legitimate green claims.
Dr. Michael Berry openly predicted this in an interview I did with him over four years ago that is available for a free mp3 download in the technical resource section entitled “Interlink Interview Series – Be Cautious Before Your Green” of Cleanwiki.
How do you make intelligent choices about green? The United States Federal Trade Commission is trying to reign in all the unsubstantiated claims in green advertising. Previously, they issued FTC 16 C.F.R Part 260 – Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims. According to Section 260.2, “these guides apply to environmental claims included in labeling, advertising, promotional materials, and all other forms of marketing, whether asserted directly or by implication, through words, symbols, emblems, logos, depictions, product brand names, or though any other means, including marketing through digital or electronic means, such as the internet or electronic mail. The guides apply to any claim about the environmental attributes of a product, package, or service in connection with the sale, offering for sale, or marketing of such product, package, or service for personal, family or household use, or for commercial, institutional or industrial use. In section 260.1 the FTC makes the following statement: “Conduct inconsistent with the positions articulated in these guides may result in corrective action.”
Critics will argue that these original guidelines were so vague, that any practical enforcement of them beyond the most blatant liars was for naught. On October 6, 2010, the FTC released proposed revisions to the guidelines. The FTC is presently seeking comments on these revisions. These proposed revisions greatly expand the reach of the FTC is defining what is “inconsistency.” The FTC has already filed several new lawsuits against offending companies. To see a summary of what these proposed additions are to the Marketing Guidelines, go to the Technical Resource Library and read the Special Report Cleanwiki has prepared for you entitled, “Staying Compliant with U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Guidelines”
All these guidelines may first appear to be “gobbledy-gook” to the average reader. That is why we put together a comprehensive four page report to help cleaners and restorers navigate their way through what they should and should not say or claim when advertising “green.” The report, entitled, ‘Staying Compliant with U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Guidelines Concerning “Green” Advertising’ is available for free to download in a special section of the Cleanwiki Technical Resource library entitled “Green Cleaning.”
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