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August 7, 2017 | by  | in News |
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Not So Environmentally Friendly

The use of “greenwashing” — marketing an unsustainable product as environmentally friendly — has risen considerably, according to Environmental Choice New Zealand.

The practice involves the use of marketing techniques, such as false certification scheme logos, pictures of plants, and phrases such as “contains natural ingredients” to create a false impression that a product is environmentally friendly. The increase in misleading product labels likely reflects a rise in sustainability awareness in consumers.

General Manager for the New Zealand Ecolabelling Trust, Francesca Lipscombe, told Salient that there are “no rules in place around [greenwashing].” It is left up to the consumer to “take manufacturers’ claims with a grain of salt and rely on a third party’s verification of environmental claims.”

Common household items, such as Simple Green All Purpose Cleaner, claim the words “non toxic” and “biodegradable” on their label. However, the cleaning spray contains an Isothiazolinone mixture, which includes Methylisothiazolinone, a highly corrosive chemical.

The American Environmental Protection Agency’s 1998 document “Reregistration Eligibility Decision, Methylisothiazolinone” found that the chemical is toxic when ingested, inhaled, or applied to the skin or eyes in animal studies. The chemical is also toxic to freshwater, estuarine, and marine organisms.

Environmental Choice New Zealand was established in 1992 to reduce “greenwashing” and make it easier for consumers to identify whether a product is environmentally friendly. Products which meet the Environmental Choice criteria are proven to have a minimal negative environmental impact.

“To display the tick says this product has met all of our requirements and is not having an adverse affect on the environment at any stage in the production process,” said Lipscombe.

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