Good thing too. The Washington Post reports that the FTC is speeding up a review of its green marketing guidelines to get them more in step with the rush of marketing we’re seeing now. It’s first set of public meetings will take a look at carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates. But that’s just likely to be the first topic, because there are so many others that need to be addressed.
As Joel Makower wrote just yesterday about some research that Terrapass TerraChoice, an environmental marketing firm, released about the claims and realities of the green claims made about 1,100 products. Called The Six Sins of Greenwashing, the report found that “all but one made claims that are either demonstrably false or that risk misleading intended audiences.” You can have your doubts about the study, but the exercise is worth taking a look at. And Makower, who describes himself as initially skeptical, explains the methodology behind it, as explained by TerraChoice.
Makower’s conclusion, and one that I have been looking into recently, is that the only real solution to all of this is a label that folks can trust that’s created using a baseline that everyone follows so you know what you’re going to get. The risk, though, is that it will be years before we get to something as sturdy as the Energy Star label for things other than appliances. Without strong leadership, we could see a proliferation of home grown labels and associations, created by trade groups and companies that risk causing a lot more confusion and suspicion among consumers.