THE BLOG
11/16/2007 12:23 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Spending Real Green for "Faux Green"

So, you pick up The New York Times and read a story that talks about purported "green" products, such as clothing, that sell at a premium. Yet, when independently tested the products come up short on the reality of the claims...like, that organic seaweed shirt is no different from a regular cotton shirt.

How can a marketing campaign cloud the judgment of the consumer? Easy -- a great décor, a nice carry out bag, and a great bunch of 'feel-good' ambassadors. Yet, no one ever tested the material, or ensured that the product was truly green? Wow! That is like putting food in the market and claiming that it is organic and therefore worth a higher price. But if it is not really organic, then what is the consumer buying?

Green sells because many manufacturers are not required to list ingredients on their product labels. Items ranging from cleaners to paint to clothing should have to ensure that their marketing claims are accurate. For example, well-known green labels such as Seventh Generation and Whole Foods 365 line use recycled materials in their paper products. Other paper manufacturers may claim 'green' but consumers deserve to know if they are cutting virgin timber for their paper products.

Other products that are monitored more frequently are household cleaners. Standard cleaning materials contain toxic chemicals and strict warning labels due to their emission of off-gases that can increase indoor air pollution. Most consumers know to skip cleaners with chlorine bleach, ammonia and phosphates. However, the "green" cleaning products are also becoming more visible on the shelf -- and the only issue with some consumers is their effectiveness -- in that you may have to use more scrubbing power.

At a basic level, we as consumers have to remember that nothing in this country is truly green. Shipping products on trucks, trains and ships means emissions. And there are certainly people who ride their bikes each morning to generate power, and others who use wind or solar power, but the key to understanding the real premise behind the green movement is this philosophy: An eco-friendly lifestyle means that you use renewable, recyclable and sustainable products that limit harm to the environment.

A few companies will be hustlers -- they will 'greenwash' anything -- and they will take your money and give you a faux product. But, we need to call them out! If great marketing and faux products make people doubt the veracity of all the truly eco-friendly and eco-healthy products on the market, that is the real shame! It is my hope that an increased level of testing and compliance occurs with certification from nonprofits like GreenSeal. Otherwise, the green movement will be considered a trend -- and our environment is too important to have a few companies take advantage of consumers with 'faux' products. Buy only 'real' green products -- and don't pay your hard earned money for a faux green product!