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Greenwashing

 

What is “green washing” and how can consumers know for sure that the products they buy and consume are really sustainable?

 
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Peter Cholakis
<div class="entry-content"><p>Discussion and understanding of&nbsp; &ldquo;greenwashing&rdquo;, just like &ldquo;bimwashing&rdquo;, is a complex undertaking.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Let&rsquo;s start with &ldquo;greenwashing&rdquo;.</p><p>Do most organizations, at a fundamental level, engage in greenwashing?&nbsp;&nbsp; Of course.</p><p>They do so when focus is upon LEED buildings vs. addressing the basic and far more significant issue of incredible waste associated with their myriad of building renovation, repair, sustainability, and minor new construction projects.</p><p>Greenwashing involves far more that whether or not a specific product has a higher or lower carbon footprint.&nbsp; It has more to do with strategic and tactical real property portfolio management and operations, and changing the &lsquo;status quo&rsquo;.</p><p>Do many/most organization have a standardized national cost estimating system and/or any real way to track projects and associated productivity?&nbsp; No.</p><p>Do many/most organizations implement proven collaborative construction delivery methods consistently across their real property portfolio (examples: Integrated Project Delivery &ndash; IPD, Job Order Contracting &ndash; JOC)? No.</p><p>Are these difficult problems to solve? No.</p><p>Time for a change? Yes.</p></div>
James Schmelzer
<p>I challenge everyone to also take a broader look how green washing can create confusion for consumers.</p><p>For instance, everyone agrees that compact fluorescent light bulbs are a &quot;green&quot; product?</p><p>Maybe.</p><p>Indeed, they use less energy than an incadescent light bulb and therefore have a smaller environmental footprint. &nbsp;But what about the environmental effects of improper disposal of the CFL at the end of its useful life? &nbsp;They contain mercury and other toxic substances. &nbsp;So we have to take a cradle to grave approach in making wise consumption decisions.</p><p>But let&#39;s look at the CFL example in greater depth. &nbsp;Let&#39;s say we are responsible consumers and we make sure that we properly dispose of the bulb. &nbsp;But if it is made in China, what is the carbon footprint of that bulb from the time it was produced, put on a truck, put on a boat, then when it gets to the US, put on another truck, and then a train, and then another truck until you buy it at the hardware store? &nbsp;That is a whole lot of carbon footprint!</p><p>Maybe that incadescent light bulb that was made in Ohio is looking greener?</p>
cakvistad
<p>Greenwashing is best described as disinformation disseminated by organizations to present an environmentally responsible public image.&nbsp;</p>
darnold
Greenwashing also occurs when a company focuses on one or two aspects of a product or the manufacturing process but other aspects of the product or the manufacturing process can still be harmful to human health or the environment.
PYoo
<p>&quot;Greenwashing&quot; is defined by the act of companies publicizing their practices or products as environmentally friendly. As the term greenwashing dervies from the term &quot;whitewashing&quot;, it also carries negative connotation that is deceptive.&nbsp;</p><p>In my opinion consumers can never be able to gaurantee whether a company&#39;s products or practices are actually &quot;green&quot;. Those who are educated in the production of certain materials and how they are made or decompose may have the upper hand in being able to figure out if a product or its packaging is actually environmentally friendly, but I&#39;d think most people wouldn&#39;t have much of a choice but to believe what certain companies proclaim. Lastly, if a current or ex-employee of a certain (environmentally friendly) company was to speak out about the practices or action of &quot;cutting corners&quot; for cost; only then would the public know if a company was decieving the consumers.</p>
Rebe Stein
<p>Greenwashing is the term used to describe when a company tries to promote a product as environmentally friendly, but the consumer can&rsquo;t know for sure if the product they are buying is really sustainable. Most of the companies which this term can be applied to, they focus more on having a better promotional method than paying attention to their product. My team and I think that it is up to the consumer to trust the brand. A good way to know better the brand and make sure the product they are buying is environmentally friendly it is making research on the brand to see where the products come from and &nbsp;what they are made of.&nbsp;</p>
darnold
<p>This is a great question, and one with which federal purchasers have struggled.&nbsp; Some of the products designated within the federal green purchasing program, such as Energy Star products, have a label that is verified by the program. Others, such as recycled content, are self-declared. When you add other claims to those basic requirements, such as a claim that a product is &quot;environmentally friendly&quot;, purchasers become confused. This is why the Federal Trade Commission issued -- and periodically updates -- its guidelines for environmental marketing claims.</p>
Deshawn Nunez
<p>In my opinoin green washing misleading a product of being green even though the poduct itself isn&#39;t. It&#39;s extremely bad on the company as if the company is really green friendly when it&#39;s not.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>
seatinginc
<p>The BIFMA level sustainability standard should be used for furniture. &nbsp;It&#39;s a comprehensive standard that covers many aspects of product manufacture and requires independant certification and annual monitoring. Our small manufacturing company invested significant time and expense to become certified because it was our understanding that the federal government would be requiring certification for participation on GSA contract.</p>
CMA2013PJS
<p>In my experience greenwashing occurs when the consumer has not been educated by their management to know what to look for.&nbsp; Management needs to provide educated goals and requirements the become policy for the company or agency.&nbsp; Without this the consumer is left with the suppliers own green sales pitches that can be anything from spot on or misleading.&nbsp; I believe third party certification that covers an entire product life cycle is the most comprehensive approach for suppliers and consumers to guide themselves by.&nbsp; Just looking at some percentage of recycled content and/or is something reclyclable is just not enough to be truly green in my opinion.</p>
tigetek
<p>The manufacturers I represent in the Office Furniture Industry place information in the descriptions that we utilize when we order which indicates if the furniture is &quot;Green&quot; or not. &nbsp;We go by that when we sell it.</p>
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