The Seven Sins of Greenwashing: Is Everybody Lying?
An updated version of the 2007 report The Six Sins of Greenwashing has just been released. And like its predecessor, this version offers sensational findings: of 2,219 products making environmental claims that researchers found in North American retailers, “over 98 %” committed one of several “sins.” The 2007 report identified six such sins. This year’s edition adds a seventh.
I suppose that’s what passes for progress these days.
First, some background. In 2007, TerraChoice, a Canadian research firm that operates the Canadian government’s EcoLogo program, sent research teams into six category-leading “big box” stores with orders “to record every product-based environmental claim they observed.” TerraChoice then assessed each of the claims to see if they passed muster — that is, that they were specific, substantive, and could be backed up with some reasonable proof points, among other criteria. All told, out of just over 1,000 products, “all but one made claims that are either demonstrably false or that risk misleading intended audiences.”
Late last year, TerraChoice repeated the process, though extended its reach: Its researchers were sent into retailers in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia. The track record was slightly better: 25 products found in North American stores were deemed “sin-free,” says TerraChoice. The trends were similar in the other countries.