Thinking about creating a green nursery for your little one? You’re not alone! Green living has gone mainstream, and organic, responsibly sourced nursery products have never been more affordable or easier to find.
That said, green living isn’t the only trend gaining ground. As the business and marketing world race to court the environmentally conscious, many companies have embraced a different trend. Instead of developing greener products and engaging in eco-friendly business practices, they simply pretend to be green using a strategy known as “greenwashing.”
What is Greenwashing?
Greenwashing is the practice of using advertising, labeling and other marketing strategies to trick eco-conscious consumers into believing a service or product is greener than it actually is.
A company that has been "greenwashed" may seem eco-friendly, but in reality, their concept of going green boils down to little more than a well-executed marketing campaign.
A hotel, for example, might launch a campaign encouraging guests to wash their sheets and towels less often in order to protect the environment. By touting these efforts, the hotel maintains an environmentally responsible public image, giving the business greater consumer appeal. But if the hotel’s environmental record doesn’t match its new-found enthusiasm for less laundering, the company is probably doing very little to protect anything other than their bottom line.
Products can also be greenwashed. Until the Federal Trade Commission put an end to the practice, retailers regularly labeled and advertised rayon textiles as “eco-friendly bamboo.” Consumers bought these products, sometimes at an inflated price, believing they were purchasing a green product. But while rayon does originate from bamboo, it is processed with toxic chemicals. The final result is anything but “eco-friendly.”
How to Avoid Greenwashing
Don’t get duped by phony claims. Before you spend your hard-earned money on “green” products for your nursery, make sure you know how to spot a fake.
Do Your Homework.
Instead of taking a company’s eco-friendly claims at face value, take a moment to check out their website. What else do they say about the product? Can you find additional evidence of an ecological commitment? If a company is making an effort, they’ll be the first to tell you about it.
Don’t Believe Everything You Read.
Beware of buzzwords. Manufacturers use words and phrases like “green” and “eco-friendly” pretty loosely, so be sure to read carefully. Even products labeled “organic” may not be made entirely of organic materials. Pay close attention to the language. If it doesn’t say “100% organic,” it probably isn’t.
(Need to brush up on your green speak? Check out this helpful glossary.)
Get an Expert Opinion.
There are plenty of organizations committed to protecting consumers from greenwashing. If you’re not sure about a product, you can always look and see what the experts are saying about it. Check with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and look for products and services approved by eco- conscious consumer-advocacy groups, such as the Environmental Working Group.