InformAction Newsletter
Actionable insights from Brandology®
Experts in trend tracking, strategic planning, positioning, new products and marketing
       There are 2,219 consumer products on the shelf in the US and Canada that make environmental claims, and 98% of those claims are misleading or deceptive, according to the latest assessment by Terrachoice. This year, they used their “Seven Sins of Greenwashing” as a measuring stick. Last year, they used the “Six Sins of Greenwashing” (which indicates that marketers invented a new way to sin this year.)

       The seven sins are:
  • The sin of worshipping false labels---creating label symbols that appear to be third-party certifications, but are not.
  • The sin of hidden tradeoffs---focusing on environmentally positive product attributes, while ignoring more significant negative ones.
  • The sin of no proof---we’re just going to assert that’s a sin without telling you more.
  • The sin of vagueness---using “eco-friendly” and other undefined terms.
  • The sin of irrelevance---taking credit for eliminating a chemical from a product when the chemical was actually banned.
  • The sin of the lesser of two evils---“organic cigarettes” is the poster child for this problem.
  • The sin of fibbing---which encouragingly, is the least common.
       Terrachoice admits they have set the bar high. But, they believe it’s in the best interest of manufacturers (yes, you read that right) to eliminate these sins. Anything less may lead to unfair competitive pressure from inaccurate claims, consumers becoming cynical about claims, and ultimately, the green movement losing steam.

We should think about...
  • What’s the best way for us to ensure that our green claims are correct?
  • Are we focusing our product development efforts on addressing the biggest environmental negatives of our products, and measuring our improvement against well defined standards?
Sources: Daily Green 2009; Terrachoice 2009
Click here to learn more about Brandology