Better Green Labels Needed to Clear Up Consumer Confusion
Photo of bags via lrargerich
Consumers need better labeling for green products. And they’ve said so.
According to a report released by Strategic Oxygen and Cohn & Wolfe, consumers are looking closely for green credentials when it comes to big energy suckers like HDTVs, computers and laptops. But when they are looking, labels that convolute information or hype up what isn’t there makes buying a truly green item confusing and difficult.
In fact, poor labeling hurts green businesses in the long run. 10,000 people in 12 nations were surveyed in order to find out their green shopping habits:
More than half of those polled said their lack of awareness interferes with buying gadgets that consume modest amounts of energy, use recycled packaging and low-toxic materials, and offer recycling options. Forty-five percent named price as the biggest turn-off to purchasing such products.
Considering our advances in technology that allow us to make ever more efficient and green gadgets inexpensively, consumers shouldn’t have to spend much more for greener goods. If consumers refuse to pay more for green tech while still demanding green tech options, then manufacturers will have to figure out more eco-friendly ways of delivering just that.
However, the method of delivery can’t come via fancy marketing and packaging. In fact, just in June, TreeHuggers surveyed said that they would trust a green label only if they knew who was behind it. Some brands are better at positioning themselves as greener than they are, so they get the consumer base that is looking for eco-options while the truly green companies are missing out.
Americans surveyed identified Dell and Apple, followed by HP and Microsoft, as the brands with the greenest credentials. NEC, Hitachi, and Nintendo ranked near the bottom among 27 companies.
Those perceptions didn't match up with the ratings of 18 green electronics brands by Greenpeace. Samsung and Nokia, for example, ranked poorly in the GreenFactor survey but were rated among the top five brands by the environmental watchdog group.
Indeed, better labeling standards would help clear up these confusions and put those companies doing the truly good work in the spotlight. While we have Energy Star and EPEAT, we know that this isn’t enough. Some requirements for what should and shouldn't be on a label would be helpful. And yet, some responsibility needs to fall on consumers. Taking the time to research the green creds of corporations – and the resources for doing this are not lacking – is needed if we’re going to make truly informed decisions.
More Resources for Buying Smart:
Green Buying Guides
Good Guide Helps You Shop For the Safest, Healthiest Products
Who Are the Greentronic Companies? Check the Scoreboard.
Greenpeace's Updated Consumer Electronics Guide