Those who track false “green” claims and the lawsuits that come as a result of them are saying that the cases are on the rise across the globe. Patent attorney Eric Lane of San Diego-based Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps, who runs the Green Patent Blog and tracks greenwashing litigation says “This is the beginning of what may be an explosion in these kinds of cases…This is a hot area of false advertising.” In fact, a study done by TerraChoice, an environmental marketing agency, out of 2,219 North American products surveyed, over 98% committed at least one of the Six Sins of Greenwashing while the number of so-called “green” products increased by 79% in the last 2 years. Some of the more notable recent cases include:
In March, a consumer filed a class action against S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. in federal court in California, alleging that the maker of Windex is misleading consumers about the “environmental safety and soundness” of the cleaning product. At issue is S.C. Johnson’s use of its “Greenlist” trademark, which the lawsuit claims is misleading because it’s not a third-party endorsement, but rather a mark owned by S.C. Johnson. (I have written about S.C. Johnson & their multiple different greenwashing tactics before.)
In February, six environmental and public safety groups filed suit against the makers of Tide, Ajax and other household cleaners to force them to reveal the chemical ingredients of their products, and any research about them. The plaintiffs want to know if the manufacturers, including Procter & Gamble Co. and Colgate-Palmolive Co., are using any dangerous chemicals and whether the manufacturers are falsely promoting any products as being eco-friendly.
This is why it is SO important to never believe what a manufacturer or a product label tells you, but rather to do your homework before buying. Just because something says “green”, “natural”, “eco-friendly” doesn’t mean that it actually is. One of the places I go to before buying a product is the Environmental Working Group website, who work very hard to expose environmental threats to ourselves and our environment. Beware of the greenwashing!
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