How can I make sure my ‘eco’ buys are genuine?

June 1, 2022

Environmental concerns are increasingly important to consumers. This can be seen in the wide range of products and services on the market advertised as ‘eco-friendly’, ‘clean’, ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’.

But, not all these claims are backed up by evidence. With World Environment Day taking place this Sunday, here’s a timely reminder of some things to keep in mind.

Did you know?

Greenwashing is when businesses claim that they do more to protect the environment than they actually do.

How can you tell if a product or service lives up to its eco claims?

When you buy goods and services, consumer protection law gives you rights, and places obligations on businesses. One of those rights means that goods and services that you buy must be ‘as described’.

This means that they must match the description given either:

  • verbally
  • or in an advertisement

including any environmental or ethical claims.

If you’re unsure of the accuracy of a business’ ‘green’ claims, you can take the following steps before you buy.

1. Look for proof of a company’s claims

Do some quick research online or via social media to find out more. Be wary of businesses with vague references to sustainability. Most genuine brands will share details of their ethical and sustainable approaches. So, look for brands that have a dedicated section about these credentials on their website or social media.

2. Don’t judge a brand by its packaging

Watch out for vague language such as

  • eco-friendly’ or
  • ‘all-natural’

as well as ‘green’ imagery which can be used to suggest that the product or brand is sustainable or ethical.

This is especially important when it comes to products that claim they are ‘vegan’ or ‘cruelty free’. A product can be vegan (not made from any animal derived ingredients) but at the same time, not be cruelty free (not tested on animals). Equally a product may be ‘cruelty free’ as it’s not tested on animals, but may not be vegan.

Be sure to read the list of ingredients and check the labels carefully before you buy to make sure you are satisfied that the claims are genuine.

3. Beware false certifications

Look out for fake ‘approved by’ seals or standards marks by institutions that may not even exist. Do some quick research if you’re unsure about a certification seal. Instead, look out for approved seals such as:

  • EU Ecolabel
  • EU Organic Logo
  • Fair Trade Certified
  • Rainforest Alliance Certified
  • Soil Association Organic Certified
  • The Vegan Trademark

Contact us with full details if you believe that you may have been misled about green claims.

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