Do you try to be a green consumer? Says who? The problem with eco-friendly shopping today is that it’s become the “Wild West” of marketing, says the Los Angeles Times, with dozens of self-appointed labels, grass roots seals-of-approvals, and no unified, federally mandated guideline. According to Bruce Hamilton of the Sierra Club,
“People are consciously trying to fuzzy the boundary lines between clarity and lack of clarity so they can sell more products. Everybody is trying to promote their products as green even though they may not be.”
One site that can help you decide what to buy is eco-labels.org, run by the Consumers Union (who publish Consumer Reports). The site provides detailed information on various seals you can find on products, as well as the meanings behind phrases like “eco safe,” “biodegrades without forming microtoxins” (whaa?), and “cruelty free.”
Eco-labels believes a universal seal would be too difficult to implement, and that simply more consistency in labeling would help everyone. Of course, a federal agency seal doesn’t prevent abuse or mislabeling, it just standardizes it; we saw how that turned out with the whole “organic” category. But at least you can assume a minimum standard is being met before the label “organic” can be applied, whereas today “green” is just another marketing term to appeal to a highly attractive and growing demographic of environmentally conscious—but consistently frustrated—shoppers.
“It’s not easy being a green consumer” [Los Angeles Times]