How To... Figure Out if a Product is REALLY Green

How To... Figure Out if a Product is REALLY Green

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Rachael Grad
Oct 7, 2008

DC has a bureau for everything, including "Misdirected Destiny." But it turns out that there isn't much regulation on green product claims and you can easily be misled. Readers have pointed out that some manufacturers are suddenly hopping on the green bandwagon, and products that have long been sold without any green label are now claimed to be environmentally-friendly. To help keep your green destiny going in the right direction, we researched ways to determine if a product is REALLY green...

Some ways to figure out if green claims are true:

- Look for very specific language and find out what it means. Companies use vague product terms such as "all natural," "nontoxic," "organic," and "carbon neutral, which vary by company because there is no standardized meaning. The more specific a term and explanation, the better.

- Use green products with certification. There are some trusted certification labels including Energy Star for appliances and electronics, USDA Organic Seal for organic food, Green Seal for cleaning products, and Forest Stewardship Council logo for paper and wood products. According to the Fun Times Guide, avoid the Sustainable Forestry Initiative logo "because it was created by the timber lobby who most definitely do not have the environment in their best interest."

- Research. Sites like Consumer Reports' GreenerChoices.org, Greenercars.org and the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) help decipher manufacturers' claims; the Environmental Working Group and Responsible Purchasing Network have helpful information on smaller items like cleaners and food.

More helpful links:

- Critter Cash

- MSNBC

Do you have tips for deciphering green labels?

[photo above from "Apartment Therapy DC" flickr group member daliag12. Join our group and you may see your photos featured on AT.]

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