Many businesses wishing to jump on the bandwagon of the green movement because of the positive social outlook and higher credibility that might follow (not to mention the plausible increased profits) do so either ignorantly or even sometimes unscrupulously. Greenwashing, or otherwise false claims of being a truly green product, run rampant.
Greenwashed or Truly Green
Staying true to what your product really is, and not necessarily what the ideal is in terms of the green ethic, will serve your company best in the long run, and help to foster trust, a solid reputation, and respect. Of course, being green through-and-through is the optimal goal.
One Green Product, Many, or All?
It is understood that not every company that markets a green product has only all green products. Some do, but not all. It’s okay to not be the greener ideal in every regard, provided you only represent your products as being what they really are. If your company has a truly green product, but not all of your products are green, it’s fine to display that particular product as being green (along with the standards under which it uniquely qualifies as being green clearly outlined) for the benefit of those who are seeking such. But obviously, no representation of any additional products as being green, that in truth are not, should be stated as such; nor should the company represent themselves as wholly green.
Third Party Green Certification
One of the best ways to provide a protection for both yourself as proprietor and for the consumer in regards to the “greenness” of a product is to get it certified by a third party. Third party certification of your product makes it verifiable to be up to par with the qualifying standards set forth with the green certifying body. The advantage to “green certification” (different certifying bodies will have different standards and criteria for your product being awarded their seal or certification) is that you aren’t making bold claims that can’t be backed up, rather you are displaying a seal or certification that gives the consumer more confidence that your product had been sized-up by an unbiased source who is giving the product the “green light”.
Some of the green certifications that can be awarded to products (and what they mean) are outlined below.
GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification – GOTS is recognized in all major markets. Only textile products that contain a minimum of 70% organic fibers can become certified according to GOTS. The standard for GOTS is quite stringent, covering the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, trading, and distribution of a product. GOTS distinguishes in their labeling between a product being “made with organic” (at least 70% organic fibers) and “organic”, which contains a minimum of 95% certified organic fibers. GOTS certification is like the “gold standard” in green certification.
The Green Business Seal of Approval by GreenAmerica.org – this seal is awarded to businesses that meet the following criteria as outlined on their website:
- Actively use their businesses as tools for positive social change;
- Run “values-driven” enterprises that operate according to principles of social justice and environmental sustainability;
- Are socially and environmentally responsible in the way they source, manufacture, and market their products and run their offices and factories; and
- Are committed to developing and employing extraordinary practices that benefit workers, customers, communities, and the environment.
Green Maven Approved – Green Maven is a green search engine. Green Maven attempts to centrally locate the search online for green products and green companies in one place. The criteria for being included within the Green Maven are based upon the guiding principles of Green Values, Quality,and Green Certifications.
Green Certifications Abound
These are only a few of the many green certifications and seals that can be awarded to a company and/or product. They have been reviewed in descending order of difficulty to achieve. The important thing is that each of these certifying bodies have outlined their standards for inclusion, so that a consumer can do his or her own due diligence when deciding upon a product based upon the seal or certification awarded to it.
Generally, the more green certifications that a company can achieve, the higher it is held in esteem by distinguishing green consumers. Also, the more difficult the certifications are to achieve, the more highly-regarded they are.