Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I'll Take Two of Everything You Have in Green

So . . everyone and their little sister's obnoxious boyfriend is on this green kick. If they aren't showing off their double stacked recycling bins then they are showing off their Method Green Apple dish soap and matching hand wash. Which is fantastic . . . kind of.

Except business is business. And when businesses see a way to make money and keep their overhead low they attack. Viscously. That's what has been happening with this green wave the US of A has been riding. Another word for it is Greenwashing. Wash that green right out of your hair or wallet or whatever I'm too tired to be clever today, sorry kids.

I just got my daily google alert for some evil chemical somebody and I saw that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking for comments for their Green Guides on Green Packaging. FTC's Green Guides are voluntary guidelines for marketing of consumer products.

Wow cosmic timing!! As I was writing this blog a colleague came into my office with the latest Buffalo Spree edition on Living Green. Oh Buffalo, you!

Anyways . .. this is what the purpose is exactly:

"These guides represent administrative interpretations of laws administered by the Federal Trade Commission for the guidance of the public in conducting its affairs in conformity with legal requirements. These guides specifically address the application of Section 5 of the FTC Act to environmental advertising and marketing practices. They provide the basis for voluntary compliance with such laws by members of industry. Conduct inconsistent with the positions articulated in these guides may result in corrective action by the Commission under Section 5 if, after investigation, the Commission has reason to believe that the behavior falls within the scope of conduct declared unlawful by the statute."

So basically the FTC believes it is within it's right to draw up guidelines on how corporations design their products when they are making claims about being environmentally safe.

Interested parties prepare to thumb wrestle.

Guess what? There are corporations that lie on their packaging and advertising. I know I know. Crazy. What is happening right now is that some companies are simply saying that they are green and you should spend your hard earned money on those products because like you they care about our planet. Some products have labels about carbon offsetting. What? There is a problem with carbon offsetting? Who said that? Many environmentalists think that carbon offsetting is crap. crap. crap. crap.

Hmmm I feel I have to touched on too many aspects of greenwashing here. So I'm going to continue down the FTC green guides comment period discussion and come back to carbon offsetting at another time (but feel free to google or dogpile it in order to find out more in the mean time).

Ok. FTC guidelines on green marketing. Last November FTC announced it was going to start holding a workshop on Carbon Offsetting to find out whether it should rewrite its guidelines. This greenwashing thing is relatively new to popular culture and though you have been hearing Reduce Reuse Recycle for . .well . . almost as long as I have been alive . . . the real need to take drastic measures to protect our planet and your children is only now starting to touch soccer mom's in suburban Virgina. So it makes sense that they want to revisit those guidelines. And it makes sense corporations that are making big bucks on producing things that make moms and dads feel better about bringing into their home want them to proceed cautiously.

The first workshop they led in this initiative was on carbon offsetting, but the FTC just announced another workshop on Green Packaging. It will be held here in Washington DC on April 30. They are accepting comments until May 19.


As school administrators and parents are deciding what type of products to buy, things like these workshops are necessary to pay attention to. How are people suppose to know what is in their products? How does the school facility manager find better alternatives? Why aren't there more choices? Why are all the kids getting asthma in your community? It's a tough realization to find out that the products you purchase everyday could be making your kids sick and we need to make sure that people are held accountable if they producing products and lobbying to limit restrictions on products that are creating hazardous learning environments.

That's all I got.

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