Excellent New Government Guidelines Will Make Greenwashing a Lot Harder
The Federal Trade Commission's new rules warn companies not to use useless, vague labels like "green" and "eco-friendly," among other things.
So let's say your detergent comes in a package that says "Biodegradable!" Sounds great, right? But what does that mean, exactly? Does it decompose in 3 months? Three decades? This is the rampant problem of "greenwashing": marketers using misleading labels to make customers think their products are "eco-friendly," or whatever, when they're not.
This week, the Federal Trade Commission did us all a favor. It announced it's working on a new set of guidelines that will ensure the labels on the stuff we buy follow common sense. Among the proposed changes: Marketers shouldn't use labels like "green" or "eco-friendly" because they're too vague; if something's labeled as "biodegradable," then the entire package should "completely break down and return to nature" within a year; and if something's called "non-toxic" it should be non-toxic for humans and for the environment generally. Shopping responsibly should be a lot less confusing.
Right now the proposed new guidelines are in draft mode. They're available for download in this very readable PDF and open for public comment.