April 22 is Earth Day, a global movement to support the protection of the environment. In honor of this important holiday, we will be sharing sustainability tips to help our users save money and produce less waste.
Today, there are more consumers, more products, and more human-made pollution than ever. Many consumers don’t know where to start when trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle because there is so much conflicting information available and “environmentally friendly” product claims can be very misleading.
Brands sometimes exploit consumers’ interest in environmentally-sound products by making unsubstantiated or unverified claims regarding a product’s environmental benefits (called “greenwashing” or “green sheen”). This is a marketing technique to boost sales and improve a brand’s image, but ultimately “greenwashing” confuses customers and prevents them from finding and using the most sustainable options.
“Greenwashing” attempts to watch out for:
- Brands market a product based on one positive environmental attribute while paying no attention to other important and related issues; the claim can be truthful, but unhelpful or unimportant to consumers seeking environmentally preferable products.
Example: paper products that promote/tout their recycled content without addressing harvesting practices, manufacturing/air emissions, and water emissions.
- Brands make environmental claims without easily accessible supporting info or reliable 3rd-party certification (no proof) at either the point-of-sale or on the product website.
Example: personal care products that claim to only use organic ingredients but offer no evidence or certification.
- Brands often use vague language without any real meaning. Sometimes brands will make environmental claims that are simply false.
Examples of meaningless words include:
“Chemical-free” — Everything is a chemical (water is a chemical)
“Non-toxic” — Anything can be toxic in sufficient dosage (water, oxygen, salt, for example).
“All-natural” — Arsenic, Uranium, Mercury and Formaldehyde are all-natural and all poisonous to humans.
“Green,” “Environmental friendly,” “Eco-conscious,” are all meaningless without further elaboration and clarification.
While, ultimately, manufacturers produce the most pollutants that contribute to environmental degradation, consumers can still make an impact by modifying their behavior and, when necessary, choosing more sustainable products.
Living a more environmentally conscious lifestyle does not have to be more expensive. In fact, being more environmentally aware correlates with saving money because it is better for consumers to examine and change their consumption habits rather than simply purchasing items that are branded as environmentally friendly. This means reusing or repurposing items, reducing the amount of unnecessary or harmful packaging waste, and recycling when possible.
Check back this month for more helpful tips to save money and reduce your environmental impact.