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New study finds claims misleading in 99% of "green" products surveyed

December 3, 2007—Most "green" products were found to be "stretching the eco-truth," according to the Six Sins of Greenwashing study just released by TerraChoice Environmental Marketing.

The study found that of 1,018 common consumer products ranging from caulking to shampoo to printers, randomly surveyed for the study, 99% were guilty of so-called "greenwashing."

TerraChoice separated the environmental shortcomings into six categories. The products that TerraChoice surveyed made a total of 1,753 claims, and 99% percent committed at least one of the following "Six Sins:"

  1. Sin of the Hidden Trade-Off (998 products or 57% of all environmental claims): e.g. Energy-efficient electronics that contain hazardous materials.

  2. Sin of No Proof (454 products and 26% of claims): e.g. Shampoos claiming to be certified organic, but with no verifiable certification.

  3. Sin of Vagueness (196 products or 11% of claims): e.g. Products claiming to be 100% natural when many naturally occurring substances are hazardous, like arsenic and formaldehyde.

  4. Sin of Irrelevance (78 products and 4% of claims): e.g. Products claiming to be CFC-free, even though CFCs were banned 20 years ago.

  5. Sin of Fibbing (10 products or less than 1% of claims): e.g. Products falsely claiming to be certified by an internationally recognized environmental standard like EcoLogo, Energy Star, or Green Seal.

  6. Sin of Lesser of Two Evils (17 products or 1% of claims): e.g. Organic cigarettes or environmentally friendly pesticides.

Manufacturers and suppliers can request an assessment and EcoLogo certification in order to determine whether a product's claims are valid or if they commit one of the Six Sins. This government-launched ecolabelling program's insignia will help consumers know that an independent, credible, and expert third party has verified a product's green qualifications, says TerraChoice, which manages the program.

To download a copy of the Six Sins of Greenwashing Report, visit the TerraChoice Web site.

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