I just ran into an announcement that the FTC is looking into advertising making claims of being green or eco-friendly. The new rules should be in place for 2009. The last set of rules on this topic came in 1998.
I have been asked many times in the past months as to what products are “green” for the home. As an inspector, I try my best to keep up with the latest products, and the latest trends in homes, but at times I wonder why a manufacturer chose to label a product as environmentally sound. I like to know the reasoning behind some claims, because I feel that they are applying a buzz word to a product to help sell it. This is happening more with paints. I read trade magazines, and the product reviewers seem to be facing the same conundrum that I am encountering.
I realize that the FTC has to take its time in developing its guidelines; that is just the wheels of government in play, but for the consumer, we are in a buyer beware phase now. My favorite claim to being environmentally friendly came from a furniture store. The ad stated that they had to travel the world for this furniture, so you would not have to, therefore they helped the environment by preventing all of us from traveling to buy that end table. Interesting argument. I guess that I should tell my wife that I am going to have to cancel my trip to Morocco for that rug for the hallway.
When it comes to some reasonable economic views of the environment, I think you should read the book The Undercover Economist. Mr. Harford makes some good points about being environmentally sound in economic terms. Mainly, we should not buy on impulse, just because we think we are helping the environment by our purchase. Take the time to understand the product we are acquiring, and does it meet our own definition of green before the purchase. This post is more along the lines of a forewarning. The moral is standard: do not believe everything you see.