Public Radio Judges ‘Green’ Products Guilty of ‘Greenwashing’

When business goes green, interest groups get mean.

National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" gave a report November 30 on misleading "green" products, charging companies with "The Six Sins of Greenwashing."

"You may have thought they were environmentally friendly just because the product says so, but some environmentalists think you're being ‘greenwashed,'" said host Steve Inskeep. "Is one of the sins just lying, then, basically?"

Scot Case of the environmental marketing firm TerraChoice conveyed that "the biggest sin [they] found ... was called ‘The Sin of the Hidden Tradeoff' for products that promote a single issue ... but there are a wide variety of environmental considerations."

TerraChoice evaluated 1,018 retail products for their environmental claims and only one was found to be without sin, while the rest were guilty of offenses like "The Sin of the Lesser of Two Evils," "The Sin of Fibbing" and "The Sin of No Proof."

So, what's TerraChoice's solution?

According to Case, consumers should reward products that provide the most accurate and useful information about how their products are eco-friendly.

No representatives for business were included in the report, although Case was careful not to name the products outright. Nevertheless, he was "absolutely shocked by some of the brand names that were committing these sins," which came off the shelves of six big-box retailers.