Good Housekeeping's New Green Seal: Not That Green, Actually

Everyone knows the Good Housekeeping seal, which carries a two-year warranty on products that have it and pretty much proves that the product’s manufacturer advertises in Good Housekeeping magazine. Now the venerable publication has a new seal which is supposed to denote environmentally friendly household products and, according to Slate’s Paul Smalera, is at best meaningless and at worst draws consumers’ attention away from actual environmentally friendly products.

The problems with Good Housekeeping’s Green Seal put Method’s seal-shunning into sharp relief. Any green-label program method uses can and will easily be co-opted by the competition. That’s why its products bear a seal of sorts that only claims to be natural and nontoxic, two terms with relatively immutable definitions. Competitors trying to move the goalposts will have a hard time borrowing those words without making real changes. Yet even though companies like GE and Method have proven sustainability efforts can be profitable and accessible, companies like General Mills and Proctor & Gamble retain a mindset that prevents them from seeing sustainability as a win-win, despite earning green labels in certain areas. Earning or appointing yourself a “green seal” represents an easy way out, while hiding the truth in a hollow phrase. So a green seal that can only be earned by companies advertising in Good Housekeeping is, as a means of comparison, unreliable, and at worst, completely so. With pay-to-play built right in, the Green Good Housekeeping Seal can only raise more questions about products than it will answer.

And yet, this seal will be a handy shortcut for well-meaning customers.

The Deal Behind the New Good Housekeeping Seal [The Big Money]