To Be Or Not To Be . . Green Advertising

For some, it comes naturally. Being green that is. I mean if you’re an animal and it’s your color, that’s a no brainer. You are green. But if you’re an Earth-friendly green human like many of us claim to be during Earth Week this week, we are all thinking of ways of being nice to this planet we ALL have to live on.

In fact, there are several ways we can all be the same shade of green. When considering different ways to do this, the selection of actual environmentally-friendly products from cleaning to paint to clothing is, well, pretty cluttered. So, in my mind, it begs the question, are the products advertised living up to the standards of being green?

BBB® says you should read the product label carefully before buying it. The Code of Advertising recommends there should be ample amounts of competent and reliable scientific evidence to back up claims, along with recommendations for when to use words like “degradable” and “recyclable” in advertising and packaging. But take it a step further: the manufacturer should have also taken legitimate steps to actually test these claims. Think about this for a moment. What’s worse than buying a product you think will actually break down like it’s supposed to or be recycled into another product only to learn later that it will languish in a landfill like all the other trash?

So before snatching up the first earth friendly product you see at the store or putting items you think are recyclable in with your recyclables, think about the following:

  • Biodegradable doesn’t always mean the product won’t be headed for a landfill. There should be a substantiated claim behind it the manufacturer has in fact determined the material is biodegradable based on industry standards.

  • Check with your city or county government that handles your recycling services. You may or may not be able to recycle an item, even though it says it is recyclable.

  • Just because you see a picture of a globe with the words “Earth Smart” on a product, it could mean nothing unless the package tells you more. Read the verbiage on the product or look up the company’s website to learn more about the research or materials they used in making it.

BBB has an excellent resource in reviewing advertising claims made by manufacturers. By following our Code of Advertising, we encourage advertisers to be prepared to substantiate any claims or offers they print or broadcast and present their claims when requested. This protects consumers and builds trust in the marketplace.

In fact, if you see an ad for a product claiming to be “Green” you think might not be up to snuff, let us know. Really. Send us the ad by mail or email, along with your concerns, or just give us a call at 513-639-9114 to talk about it.

Remember, you can always contact your BBB at bbb.org to find out if there is any truth behind what’s being advertised.

**By the way, if you really want to clear out some clutter in your part of the world, join us Saturday, April 26 for Secure Your ID Day, 8 a.m. to Noon at UC Blue Ash. Find all all those receipts, junk email and other assorted pieces of paper with personal information (up to five boxes worth) and bring them in. We’ll happily and professionally shred them for you. Brought to you by BBB, Hamilton County Coalition to Stop Fraud Scams and Abuse, University of Cincinnati, WCPO and WMKV. Shredding provided by Cintas. 

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About Sandra Guile

Sandra is the PR Specialist for BBB Cincinnati, promoting BBB's message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, blogging, media relations, press releases, web content and other written materials. Her goal is to connect with consumers and business owners in a trustworthy environment and encouraging best practices.