The Wall Street Journal has an interesting report in Thursday’s issue titled: “As Eco-Seals Proliferate, So Do Doubts.” The article discusses how a number of unregulated organizations that purport to verify “green” product claims have sprouted up, which only makes buying these products even more confusing for businesses and consumers.
Here are the two main points that the writer makes:
1) The U.S. Government may need to oversee the creation of Federal green marketing standards, similar to what the U.S. Department of Agriculture has done with organic foods.
2) Eco-seals that are verified by reputable third-party organizations are more reliable. One example the writer provides is a Canadian-based organization, Ecologo.
I couldn’t agree more. I have been pushing my industry and my clients to be transparent about green marketing claims, especially because consumers are smart and see through “fuzzy” and unsubstantiated claims that organizations make. This is why when a client uses eco-friendly papers in their marketing programs and wants to explain the environmental benefits derived from these choices, they should not use a paper company’s calculator to arrive at these statistics. Rather, they should use the paper calculator created by Environmental Defense, a leading non-profit dedicated to the environment. I have written about this resource a number of times over the past several years.
I also believe that the Federal government should step in and begin to regulate green product claims. I know this will be a difficult process, as it would be impossible to apply the same standards across all industries. Nevertheless, it is important to start now, as it will help companies and individual consumers to better navigate the increasingly-complicated product landscape.
Regulation is necessary, whoever it be by. Labeling does a great job of sharing information with the consumer without requiring a serious time investment, but an abused unregulated system will ultimately only end up benefitting the few who take advantage.
This could be outsourced to a non-governmental body and there are also some independent self-regulating labeling initiatives that do a fairly good job.
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