The rap on Oregonians: Cut us and we bleed green. Yeah, sure, when we're not indulging in public displays of affection for trees, we're recycling old Volvo parts into useful household items. Even if that's true, it doesn't mean we're swallowing green propaganda whole. Not any more, anyway. As the Portland Tribune reports, two University of Oregon profs are behind a sort of online Doubt-O-Meter that lets consumers weigh advertising claims about eco-worthy products.
As writer Toby Van Fleet reports:Images of nature and messages of Earth-friendliness seem to be everywhere in advertising these days as companies respond to increased public awareness about climate change and resulting concern for environmental issues.
Enter UO profs Deborah Morrison and Kim Sheehan, who teamed with an ad agency down in Austin, Texas, called EnviroMedia Social Marketing. The result is the nifty Greenwashing Index, which entreats users to rate eco-claims made in popular ads. Greenwashing is what that shampoo company does when it proudly claims that no bunnies were hurt to make the stuff, but – oops! – neglects to mention that a whole bunch of bad pollutants were released into the air when the plastic container was made.
Interesting, isn't it, that forward-thinking movements breed both parasitic and obeisant industries so swiftly? The green-product movement inspired greenwashing, which in turn spawned the consumer-protection enviro-judges, like this one Van Fleet describes:In November, TerraChoice Environmental Marketing Inc., a firm with offices in Pennsylvania and Ontario, Canada, released the results of its survey of more than 1,000 products found in big-box stores. The survey evaluated claims from bathroom cleaners labeled as "100 percent natural" to paper towels that claim "post-consumer recycled content" against six survey categories, including lack of proof or hidden trade-offs. According to the study, almost all of the environmental marketing claims were found to be misleading or false.
Hang on for the next round; perhaps it will be a website calculator that shows what one company (or ad agency) gains by challenging the green credentials of another.