Breaking some myths around eco-friendly products

Eco bags, energy saving light bulbs, solar batteries for laptops, organic food are getting more and more popular in Poland, especially among young people. But are they all truly eco-friendly? The answer is – not all of them, unfortunately. When buying a product we can all become victims of greenwashing.

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What is greenwashing?

According to Wikipedia greenwashing is “a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote that an organization’s aims and policies are environmentally friendly. Greenwashing may be used to manipulate popular opinion to increase company’s profits or support other questionable aims”. This means that companies can actually put information that their product is “green”, “nontoxic”, “carbon neutral” etc on the labels of products which do not actually meet those standards.

So what can we do to make sure that products we buy that claim to be “green” really are “green”? There are few simple steps that we can follow:

1. If the description of the product seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. – When you see labels that claim that products are “all natural” and after that you can see a long list of chemicals that were used for production the chances are the product is not all that natural.

2. Look for labels that are very specific. – Terms like “nontoxic”, “organic” and “carbon neutral” have no standardized meaning that companies must follow so they can be freely used and interpreted by them. Reading labels and ingredients used in production is still important.

3. Check for certification. – look for international and national certificates on product labels  including Energy Star (on light bulbs and electronics) BIO (given to products following EU ecological production standards), Eco Garantie (for cleaning products for your home that actually are safer for the environment) the Blue Angel (for products and services that have environmentally-friendly aspects) and others.

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4. Do a simple research. – There is a list of websites that provide careful and specific information about products. These include:

Responsible Purchasing Network http://www.responsiblepurchasing.org/

Greener Choices Consumer Reports http://www.greenerchoices.org/

EcoLogo http://ecologo.org/en/

Green Seal http://www.greenseal.org

All this may sound like a lot of work but come on it’s worth it! If we follow those simple steps we will be able to choose our products consciously, save on water and electricity bills and be truly green.

Author: Magdalena Pięta

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