As businesses upgrade and remodel, choosing to save money rather than build for expansion, many strive to be environmentally friendly.
The Better Business Bureau advises you to be on the lookout to make certain the green product youre hearing about or reading about in fact meets all the standards. There are hundreds of products on the market today that make an environmental pitch, but fail to meet standards.
The Federal Trade Commission, in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has developed guidelines called Green Guides for advertisers to ensure that their environmental marketing claims dont mislead consumers. While these guidelines are not enforceable as law, the FTC can take action if it deems a companys marketing to be unfair or deceptive.
Under the Green Guides, companies can no longer label a product as green or eco-friendly to imply general environmental benefits. The claim must be linked to a specific product benefit.
For example, a product could be touted as degradable only if it breaks down within a year. The old guidelines allowed that claim if the product broke down in a reasonably short period, but didnt define the period. Products advertised as compostable must break down as fast as the materials they are composted with, such as plants and other organic materials that consumers might put in a backyard compost bin.
In addition, the guides caution marketers not to use unqualified certifications or seals of approval that do not specify the basis for the certification. All qualifications marketers apply to certifications or seals should be clear, prominent and specific.
BBB encourages you to check out any and all products, services and marketers making green claims before spending your green:
Do your research. Take the time to research a product and the manufacturer to find more information about greenness. Point your browser to http://snake-river.bbb.org/idaho-green-energy-business-link/. BBB partnered with the Idaho Office of Energy Resources to create this research tool.
Be cautious of fluffy language or vague claims. Fuzzy claims such as environmentally friendly or 100 percent natural without solid examples to back up the claim can be misleading. Look for specific information and substantiation of all claims.
Confirm certifications. A company can create a logo to intentionally look like its a third-party certification for its environmental claims. Research any third party carefully before accepting its stamp of approval.
Know where to turn if you have questions. Visit the FTC Environmental Marketing Claims Guidelines for more information on green products and green advertising. If you believe a business is engaged in deceptive advertising, file a complaint with your BBB and the FTC.
And finally, you can save yourself from paying for things you do not receive by reading every sales, service or work agreement before you sign it. Every such paper you sign is probably a contract. It usually binds both you and the seller to do certain things. Contracts can be long or short, but they dont have to look legal to be binding. Because most contracts are written to protect the seller, watch to see that the contract also protects you.
Robb Hicken, chief storyteller for the Better Business Bureau serving the Snake River Region. email@example.com, 947-2115