In 2008, a PriceWaterhouse Cooper survey found only 16 percent of consumers trust environmental claims from manufacturers.
For all the work some companies like Mythic Paint, Seventh Generation, Kohler, and Shaw are doing to put their best foot forward and provide consumers honest, authentically green information about their products, many more are riding their coattails without taking into consideration best practices for long term success – case in point, the firestorm around Kimberly Clark’s latest green efforts.
Guidelines for green marketing are becoming more prevalent, but are by no means being enforced to the level needed to control greenwashing. Here are a few resources to ensure your green marketing efforts don’t become the focal point of a media frenzy you don’t want to be part of.
The revised Federal Trade Commission’s “Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims” are a great starting point. Here’s a peak:
• Qualifications and disclosures
• Distinction between benefits of product, package and service
• Overstatement of environmental attribute
• Comparative claims
• General environmental benefit claims
These may seem like a “No Duh,” but look around the aisle of your favorite big box store and clearly there’s a disconnect. Though they are nearly impossible to enforce in the changing green marketplace, the guidelines are the most official rules available to marketers today.
Other voluntary standards, like ISO 14021 standard for self-declared environmental claims and ISO 14024 and the network of organizations that support the Global Eco-labeling network can also be helpful for keeping efforts on track.
Finally, seeking third-third party a product certification such as Eco-Label, Green Seal and NAHB Green Approved is a great strategy. See our post on Build Intel (HI’s brother blog), Finally: A White Paper that Sets Green Product Certifications Straight for more on product certifications.