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Sustainability

How to Evaluate “Green” Claims

In a way, you could say Green is the new Black. Environmental responsibility is the rage with everyone from your average house owner to huge corporations. Many companies even give discounts when you can prove that you’ve “gone green.”

And therein lies the problem. If you want to support green companies, you want them to be able to prove it. It’s one thing to say you’re totally eco-friendly, yet another to walk the walk and try to save the Earth. But short of going through their power usage records, how can you tell if a company that claims to be entirely paperless, use solar power and recycle everything 100% is totally legit?

Since Earth Day is this month, we thought we would highlight some ways you can tell if your favorite companies are doing what they say they are!

How to Tell

One of the quickest ways you can tell if a company really has gone green is by any awards or stamps they display. If they have an award or seal on their page from “EnergyStar” or something similar, it can be assumed they are doing their part to be eco-friendly. Keep in mind some scammers will just put the image up without actually registering, so make sure to follow-up on their claim.

If you want to do further research or there’s nothing on their website about it, a simple Google search might do the trick. Try searching for their name with words like “eco-friendly,” “sustainability,” or “environment.” Alternatively, try searching with term “greenwashing,” which is a term coined for companies that say they’re green but actually aren’t!

Barring that outlet, you may have to look at their practices. For ecommerce sellers, one easy way to tell how green they are is by looking at their packaging. Shipping is notoriously anti-green, so if the company goes out of its way to reduce their carbon footprint with packaging. If they claim to be green but print out a bunch of pages for your receipt, they may be pulling your leg!

Ratings

Since “green” is so big right now, many environmental groups and interest groups have done the research for you. They usually have websites you can check to see if the company you desperately want to support is actually as Earth-friendly as they claim.

There are so many of these websites they have since split off into sub-websites. Interested in buying a car? Check out GreenerCars. Don’t want to buy food riddled with pesticides and that are locally grown and organic? Head to the EWG’s Shopper’s Guide for a huge list and some helpful videos. Then there’s GreenerChoices which covers a wide variety of products and companies.

Another big “green” thing in the ecommerce world is webhosting. Sound weird? It’s more common than you think. Some web hosting companies even run off of wind power and go out of their way to take their lunches and dinners to work every day, and, of course, telecommuting as much as possible. GreenGeeks is a notable one, as is FatCow.

But one of the biggest tips out there is to “trust your gut.” Use your own rating system. Does the company use a lot of buzzwords like “biodegradable,” “natural,” or even throwing “green” all over their copy? Then it’s probably a bit of overhype. Before you grab that bottle or toss in some dollars to their Kickstarter campaign, it’s probably a good idea to investigate a bit.