December 2008 Issue

Are You Being Greenwashed? EN Evaluates Eco-Labels

If you’re interested in spending your dwindling greenbacks on "green" foods, you’re not alone. A near consensus of Americans—93%—have some degree of sustainability consciousness; 75% believe what they buy has an impact on society. Food companies have seen the "green" light and are swooping in to ease your environmental conscience with eco-friendly foods, from the sublime (fair trade coffee beans) to the ridiculous (organic jelly beans). Unfortunately, some claims are little more than creative self-promotion. The trend has its own phrase—"greenwashing"—defined as disinformation that misleads in order to present an environmentally responsible image. In a recent survey of 1,000 consumer products, 99% carried greenwashed claims. So how to sift through the morass of environmentally friendly phrases to find the green gems? EN helps eco-translate.

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