Saturday, 23 May 2009

Seven Deadly Sins

98% of consumer products marketed as green are greenwashing, according to TerraChoice in their newly revised report The Seven Sins of Greenwashing. With a 79% increase in green products available in North American retail stores since their 2007 report, TerraChoice advises consumers are becoming rather distrustful of environmental claims.

TerraChoice has added a new sin in this report: the worshipping of false labels. Companies committing this create the impression third-party endorsement exists when the opposite is true.

Several years ago I was conducting a site inspection at a convention centre which indicated it had achieved an energy efficiency certification. As part of my due diligence I requested the facility produce the latest proof of the certification. Having not received the certificate a few weeks following the visit I nudged them again. After a third reminder I was informed by an operations manager that the certificate had expired. Possibly an honest mistake, but still, a false label.

The lesson for planners: request verification of any and all environmental claims made, especially ecolabels.

The lesson for destinations: ensure all certifications are up to date and able to be produced on demand. And if honest errors in representing labels are made ensure they are addressed right away to help restore buyer confidence.

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