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How a company responds to this depends partly on its philosophy and partly on what it’s selling. Colando says that while FLOR has a strong commitment to recycling (the recycled content of its products ranges from 40% to 80%, and the company will take back used carpet for recycling at no charge), it’s not a big part of their branding strategy. Instead, recycled content is an ante that gets green buyers in the door. Sales are typically decided on more conventional attributes: “People ultimately make their buying decision on good design.”


That’s not always true, however. For products that directly reduce energy or water costs to the consumer, smart branding tends to emphasize those green attributes. Money talks. That’s why you’ll see the Energy Star label on GE Appliances’ home page and why Moen’s Water Sense award is the main feature of theirs. Tampa, Fla. based WaterOptimizer’s Web page includes case studies on how its smart irrigation controller reduces water use while keeping lawns green.


Forget Trust. Verify.
Regardless of whether the green message is behind the wheel or in the back seat, buyers are increasingly demanding that companies prove any claims they make. Most companies rely on third-party verifications and labels, especially important when marketing to pro customers such as builders and designers, whose own green brands rely on the products they install or specify. “We put a great deal of importance on certification,” says John Cantrell, a designer at global design firm HOK’s Atlanta, Ga., office. “If a product doesn’t have a label, we’re less and less open to using it, because there’s no accountability.”


Recent research has found that certified products have a much better track record than non-certified products. A report by TerraChoice (http://sinsofgreenwashing.org) found that products certified by a legitimate certification program were more than 30% free of greenwashing. That still leaves a lot of misleading claims, but it’s far better than the 4.4% overall greenwashing-free rate the study found.


 


LEGITIMATE ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS AND CERTIFICATIONS


> Biodegradable Products Institute
> CFPA
> CRI Green Label
> EcoCert
> EcoLogo
> ENERGY STAR
> Fair Trade Certified
> FSC
> Green-E
> GreenGuard
> Green Seal
> Natural Products Association
> Nordic Swan
> OKO-TEX
> PE FC
> Rainforest Alliance
> SCS
> SFI
> Skal EKO
> Soil Association
> UL Environment Environmental Claims Validation
> UL Environment Energy Efficiency Verification
> USDA Organic
> Water Sense


UL Environment identified 24 certifications whose basis in objective standards deliver enough credibility to be considered legitimate.
Source: TerraChoice


 


BEYOND RECYCLING
Toronto architect and activist Lloyd Alter calls recycling “bull.” He says it’s “a fraud, a sham, a scam perpetrated by big business on the citizens and municipalities of America.” A better solution, he argues, is to get to the point where we don’t create waste that has to be recycled. He offers 7 R’s to get us there:


REFUSE: That is, refuse to buy over-packaged goods.


ROT: Use garbage for compost, rather than throwing it away.


REFILL: Only 5% of beer bottles in the U.S. are returned. We can do better.


RETURN: Encourage companies to take back their used goods, as does FLOR, the carpet company mentioned in this article.


REPAIR AND REPURPOSE: Don’t throw something out if you can fix it or put it to a different use.


REDUCE: Buy less stuff. You probably don’t need most of it anyway.


REUSE: Think of how you can reuse things. Even a “disposable” item such as a paper cup can be used more than once.
Source: Treehugger.com

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