Brands Risk Consumer Fallout From Green Logo Overload

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As the world becomes more and more aware of environmental issues, pretty much everybody and their brother is thinking globally and acting locally.

And marketers, of course, have taken plenty of notice and are more than willing to share just how great their product is for the environment or how great the production of their product is good for the environment (or at least isn’t that harmful). The incredible growth of these little notices to consumers, which generally come in the form of stickers of symbols and little logos stuck to their products, are starting to seemingly mean nothing.

The Seattle Times notes that the government has not set up “one central eco-labeling system” because it “would be extremely expensive and complicated to operate.” Instead, there are numerous eco-labeling programs that are generally dedicated to one industry.[more]

Some examples include Energy Star (appliances), WaterSense (water-saving products), Design for the Environment (cleaning products), and USDA Organic (food). 

If a green label on a product doesn’t have any connection to a “legitimate certification program,” consumers will naturally be suspicious.

“For example, the familiar recycling symbol showing three chasing arrows now appears on thousands of product labels, but is sometimes misleading,” the paper reports. “That symbol may just mean the package or product is technically recyclable, which is true for nearly everything. The recycling symbol on a label provides no assurance that local recycling programs accept that material.”

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