American Elephants

FTC Cracks Down on “Greenwashing.” Green Marketing Ploys. by The Elephant's Child

The Federal Trade Commission is proposing environmental marketing guidelines that would tell companies not to make “unqualified general environmental benefit claims” like calling their products “green.” Under current rules, those broad claims are acceptable as long as businesses can provide evidence that the product is better for the environment in specific ways.

The FTC has “Green Guides.”  Who knew?  There are also guidelines for the marketing of carbon offsets and renewable energy credits — like there is no such thing as a carbon footprint?  Or that carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the building blocks of life — no CO2, no life?  FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said that consumers need to be protected from the deceptive and misleading claims that have proliferated since the agency’s guidelines were last revised in 1998. But a lot of the misleading claims come from the government.

When people are presented with claims about a “green” product, most thought it was recyclable, biodegradable, made from recycled materials or made with renewable materials.  Nearly half thought the marketing meant the product was nontoxic, compostable or made with renewable energy.  But did they buy it because of the claims?

Well, why are we not surprised?  The government insists, in spite of scientific evidence to the contrary, that there is global warming, that it is something to be alarmed about, and that somehow controlling, trading, burying or eliminating carbon dioxide will do something to stop warming. It won’t.

The sun stopped the warming.  It has gone quiet, and the Earth is currently in a cooling phase.  The entire warming over the last century has been less than a degree.  The seas are not rising, and an examination of temperature over any period shows that increases in temperature precede increases in CO2 and therefore cannot be causative.

The marketing of products is already quite untrustworthy, guidelines or not.  We have whole sections of supermarkets devoted to “organic” food, although “organic” is only a marketing ploy and means that the food in question has been grown with manure of one kind or another and “natural” pesticides like pyrethrums — one of the most powerful poisons. “Organic” food is not healthier, fresher, more nutritious or superior in any way except that it usually costs about 30% more.  That’s the power of marketing!

How about “natural?”  You see that claim on half the products in any store — but what does it mean? Simply that it is not “unnatural,” I guess.

We dutifully put our refuse into separate containers — 3 at our house — to be recycled. The yard waste is composted and returned to be sold at local nurseries. The garbage goes to the landfill. (There is no shortage of land for landfills) And the “recyclables” in many cases, go to the landfill as well. Aluminum cans are always recyclable, but paper and glass depend on whether  there is a market for it. Not always the case.

What about “sustainable?” As far as I can tell, simply a new buzz-word, and meaningless. “Renewable?” Trees are renewable, and look what has happened to the timber industry.  “Endangered?” We just learned that 1/3 of so-called “extinct” species are just fine.  Many “endangered” species aren’t, like polar bears which are doing fine.  Others stop being endangered when people stop shooting them or when their predators are removed.  Many are just mislabeled.  A good dose of skepticism is the best defense.

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