Home / News / How to understand whether a product is truly climate friendly? –Chicago Tribune

How to understand whether a product is truly climate friendly? –Chicago Tribune

How does the FTC help ensure a company’s green claims are accurate?

eco-anxiety is a prevailing sense of environmental disaster. While no one wants to increase their stress levels, some research suggests it may have benefits. For example, eco-anxiety pushes people to make environmentally friendly choices.

Unfortunately, manufacturers can take advantage of people’s fears because they want to make their products as attractive as possible. A company takes advantage of people by making misleading or false claims about how green a product is. It’s important for consumers to know how to make real-world responsive purchases.

What are the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides?

“Green” marketing is an effective strategy. Companies highlight the environmental benefits of their products, making them a selling point. Often these companies charge higher prices for environmentally friendly products.

However, what companies claim are green practices do not always match what the FTC considers environmentally friendly. To ensure consumers are not misled, the FTC issued the following: Green Guides These guidelines help ensure that the manufacturer and consumer are on the same page when it comes to understanding how environmentally friendly a product is by establishing general principles that apply to marketing claims.

What is carbon dioxide and why is it so bad?

Carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of various actions, from breathing to burning fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is very effective at absorbing infrared radiation (heat). Additionally, carbon dioxide has a long lifespan. According to this NASAOnce released, it can remain in the atmosphere for up to 1000 years. Since heat is the main driver of weather, carbon dioxide raises atmospheric temperatures, disrupts weather patterns and causes climate change. It also contributes to air pollution, creates acid rain, contributes to coastal and ocean acidification, and accelerates the melting of polar ice caps.

How do carbon positive, carbon neutral and carbon negative differ from each other?

Carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide) released due to the actions of a person or company.

Before looking at the terms carbon positive, carbon neutral and carbon negative, it is important to understand carbon offsetting. Carbon offsetting does not mean that an individual or company emits less carbon dioxide. This means they try to balance their actions. For example, if you litter, making up for it doesn’t mean you’ll stop littering; This means relocating trash cans to reduce other people’s trash. The phrase “carbon offsetting” means trying to do something useful in another area. This doesn’t necessarily mean reducing carbon emissions.

When a company is carbon positive, it adds more carbon to the environment than it removes. A carbon neutral company balances the good with the bad. For a company to be carbon negative means that its beneficial actions outweigh the negative impact on the company’s carbon emissions.

A company can sell carbon offset credits to another company to benefit from its carbon emissions. This means that a company can call itself carbon neutral (or carbon negative) if it does nothing to reduce its own carbon footprint other than taking advantage of another company’s environmentally friendly practices. While the FTC sees this as a valid solution, individual consumers may feel differently about this strategy.

What is renewable energy?

Fossil fuel is being consumed faster than it is created. This means it will eventually run out. When a company taps a renewable energy source for power, it helps ensure there is enough energy to power the future. The most common sources of renewable energy are solar energy, wind energy, hydropower, tidal energy, geothermal energy and biomass energy. Recently, a groundbreaking discovery in nuclear fusioncould one day create an almost unlimited source of energy.

According to the FTC, if a company lists its product as “made with renewable energy,” nearly the entire manufacturing process must be powered by renewable energy. But like its carbon footprint, a company that does not use renewable energy can purchase renewable energy certificates from companies that use renewable energy and still be allowed to market its product as made with renewable energy. Again, whether the consumer is satisfied with this application is a personal matter.

Material types

Only two types of environmentally friendly materials are used in the production process: recycled materials and renewable materials.

recycled materials

“Recycled materials” means that the product or packaging is created with materials that are kept out of landfills. Unless the product is made from 100% recycled materials, the label must tell the consumer what percentage of the product or package consists of recycled content.

renewable materials

As with other claims, a manufacturer must state what renewable materials were used in the manufacturing process, why the materials are considered renewable, and how much of the product or packaging is made using renewable materials. If this information is not provided, simply stating “made from renewable materials” is not enough to reassure the consumer. In short, the more transparent a company or manufacturer is about publishing information, the more likely it is that a corporate entity will adhere to the FTC’s Green Guides.

Things you might not realize about recyclable, biodegradable and compostable products

Recycleable

The FTC allows a company to call its product recyclable if most people who purchase the product can recycle the product. But that doesn’t mean you can recycle it in every city or county. Always check your local recycling options and compare them with the items you purchase. Otherwise, you’ll be doing the “wish loop,” which is throwing an item in the trash and telling yourself you’re doing the right thing, even if you’re not sure.

biodegradable

Almost anything can biodegrade when exposed to sunlight, air, moisture, bacteria and other organisms. However, when placed in a landfill there is little to no sunlight, air and moisture, so decomposition increases significantly. In other words, buying biodegradable products may not have the environmental impact you were hoping for. According to the FTC, a product should not be labeled as “biodegradable” unless it states how long it will take to degrade and how much it will break down over time.

compostable

Compost enriches the soil by providing the nutrients and organic elements that plants need to sustain life. If a product is labeled “compostable,” it means you can safely compost the materials at home. If you cannot safely compost a product at home, the manufacturer needs to make this clear.

Does ‘less waste’ really mean anything?

There is little or no point in labeling a product as simply creating “less waste.” Unless the manufacturer states why a product contains less waste and what it compares to, the consumer will not know whether they are making an environmentally responsible choice.

Environmentally friendly products

Whether there is a company that makes washing powder or food storage containersIt is up to the individual to decide whether the manufacturer’s practices are acceptable. Here’s a list of products that provide a good starting point for your research.

Chef’n EcoCrock Counter Compost Bin

Undoubtedly, this is a product that puts the responsibility on the consumer, because the product does not claim climate-friendly production. However, this 3-quart countertop bin with charcoal filter helps you be more soil-conscious by composting your own organic waste.

Ethique Pinkalicious Revitalizing Solid Shampoo Bar

The compact design of this shampoo bar reduces the carbon footprint caused by packaging and shipping. This one bar is equivalent to three bottles of shampoo. 100% plastic free and soap free.

Whiffkitch Bamboo Dish Cloths

In addition to being reusable and long-lasting, these dishcloths are made from bamboo, a 91% renewable material. The anti-scratch texture makes these dishcloths safe for a variety of kitchen surfaces.

Zero Waste MVMT Dish Washing Set

This plastic-free product comes with a bar of dish soap, a cedar soap tray, and a bamboo pot brush. It is vegan, not tested on animals and is packaged in recycled kraft paper boxes. Each bar replaces up to three bottles of liquid dish soap.

Stasher Reusable Silicone Food Storage Half Gallon Bag

“Reusable” means you don’t throw it away. This 64-ounce reusable bag is safe for everything from food to a still-hot hair straightener. It features a Pinch-Loc seal and a write-on surface for convenience. The storage bag is freezer, microwave, dishwasher and oven safe up to 400 degrees.

Mrs. Meyer’s Kitchen Essentials Set

Ms. Meyer’s plant-derived cleaning products are a definite step in the right direction. These are truly clean, non-animal tested products and are produced without ammonia, chlorine, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, artificial colorants, phosphates or petroleum distillates. This package includes hand soap, dish soap, and an all-purpose cleaner.

Iron Bottle Sports Water Bottle

I repeat, this product does not claim to be climate friendly. However, if you buy and use it, you will no longer have to buy plastic water bottles and straws. This water bottle helps you reduce your personal waste.

Green Toys Shape Sorter

In addition to containing no BPA, phthalates, PVC or outer coatings, this toy is made from recycled post-consumer plastic milk jugs. The toy is packaged with recycled and recyclable materials and does not use plastic film or twist ties. Moreover, it is printed with environmentally friendly ink.

Prices listed reflect the time and date of publication and are subject to change.

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