Interest in buying products that don’t harm the environment appears to be stronger than ever. It’s a trend that has not gone unnoticed by marketers, and product labels frequently tout the green-friendly claims of many brands.
As Earth Day approaches, the Better Business Bureau reminds consumers that the Federal Trade Commission has revised its Green Guides to “help marketers avoid making environmental claims that are unfair or deceptive.” The hope is that the latest revision of the guide that took place in October will help rein in some of the exaggerated claims that have been splashed across product labels.
The FTC held a series of meetings to gauge the concerns of consumers as they deal with the proliferation of green claims in the marketplace. It found that consumers often interpreted the benefits of “eco-friendly” claims as being considerably greater than a product’s actual attributes.
The new guides seek to keep exaggerated claims to a minimum.
While the Green Guides are not technically rules or regulations, they do define what the FTC may find as deceptive marketing and are subject to enforcement.
Here is a condensed list of the guidelines:
The new guidelines are not perfect, and some environmentalists have criticized them for not going far enough. They do not address the use of the terms “sustainable” or “natural,” citing a lack of sufficient basis for doing so. They avoid defining “organic” because the U.S. Department of Agriculture has its own guidelines for that.
They are a much-needed step forward, however. Access the FTC’s Green Guides at http://www.ftc.gov/os/2012/10/greenguides.pdf, or view a consumer-friendly version at http://business.ftc.gov/documents/environmental-claims-summary-green-guides.