<a href="http://www.greenlifestylemag.com.au/blogs/leon#">The Business of Green</a>

The Business of Green

Money matters in the green world, by Leon Gettler.

The truth about greenwashing

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Credit: iStockphoto + Carolyn Barry

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If there is one thing that sends everyone around the twist, it’s greenwashing. What are the tell-tale signs of greenwash?

Look out for suggestive pictures, like flowers and trees, too much jargon, fluffy and meaningless language, over-emphasizing green products when the company itself still pollutes, making claims without any proof and downright lies.

Earlier this year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took legal action against GM Holden, the company behind Saab in Australia, over claims it had misled consumers about its green credientials.

There was a claim that the net amount of carbon dioxide released by a Saab would be zero and the company planted 17 trees to offset those carbon emissions. Not so, said the ACCC.

Then Goodyear was forced by the courts to offer customers some of their money back because of its claims that it had environmentally friendly tyres. Yeah right!

This stuff is everywhere as businesses try to cash in and make money out of environmental awareness.

So how do we know when a company is trying to rip us off by claiming its products are green when they’re not?

The Total Environment Centre as put out a 10-point Green Cred Checklist to help us see whether green claims stack up.

Why is the company making the claims? Is everything on the table? Are we looking at the entire supply chain, or is there stuff that we don’t know about? Do we actually understand what they’re saying? Are they backing up their claims?

The advertising industry is starting to take this stuff seriously. The Australian Association of National Advertisers has put out a discussion paper on this issue, which means the industry will start cracking down on this sort of activity.

How much greenwashing do you see? What are some of the worst examples? And how do you deal with it?”