False Green Claims On the Rise, Study Finds


We knew greenwashing was rampant. We had no idea how rampant.

Environmental marketing firm TerraChoice found that 95 percent of the self-proclaimed “green” products on the market have committed at least one greenwashing “sin,” which includes unproven claims, vague marketing language such as “all-natural” and false impressions of third-party certification.

TerraChoice examined more than 5,000 “green” consumer products from stores in the United States and Canada and found that 4.5 percent of them were “sin-free”—an improvement from 1 percent in 2007. The number of products claiming to be green has jumped by 73 percent in the past year alone, however, so the pool of sinners is much larger.

TerraChoice greenwashing report card 
Photo Courtesy TerraChoice. 

TerraChoice’s greenwashing report comes amid major revisions in the Federal Trade Commission’s environmental marketing guidelines, which would regulate some of the greenwashing sins committed by the products in the study, including vague language and unqualified certification seals.

The best way to avoid greenwashers’ ubiquitous claims is to educate yourself on how to find healthy, environmentally sound products. The GoodGuide, a website and phone application, offers comprehensive reviews of more than 75,000 products. Take a moment as well to read about how greenwashing in greenmarketing is a rising trend, and discover some of the flaws with the current Energy Star program.