Greenwashing or Not?
Written by: Tali from buildaroo.com
In choosing companies to feature on our site, we have run into the same issue that I am sure many of you have encountered. How can you tell the difference between one company and another when they make similar products? And how can you tell when a company is greenwashing? When a manufacturer who is otherwise contributing to environmental destruction produces a "sustainable" product, can this product really be trusted? And should we be purchasing from this manufacturer if we know that a great portion of their money and focus is going towards continual funding of their non-sustainable products and divisions?
As an example, if an oil company opens up a solar division but under-invests in it and continues aggressive expansion of its oil division, is this a company that we really want to buy from? Or when a paint company that carries high VOC paint also has lines that are low VOC, should we be buying these low VOC paints from this company? Or is it better to purchase the comparable sustainable options from companies that only carry sustainable lines? And what if money is a factor? What if the company that only carries the sustainable product is more expensive than the company that carries the sustainable product along with the non-sustainable alternatives? These are not easy questions to answer.
The way I see it, it's obviously ideal if all the companies in the world revamped their entire company and went completely green. But there are very few examples of companies that make that commitment. A company that has a profitable non-sustainable product that is selling well is not going to stop manufacturing that product and replace it completely with a sustainable alternative, unless making that product sustainable will not alter that product in a visible manner. For example, a company manufacturing products out of glass may incorporate more recycled glass into the manufacturing process. But a company producing traditional paint may be less inclined to replace all their traditional paints with low VOC paints if the durability and price of the paint are affected. Companies are in business to make money, and if they want to move their company in the direction of eco-friendliness, they will most likely do this in gradual steps at a rate that the market can handle.
So where do we go from here? My feeling is that we must look at the company as a whole. Are the non-green aspects of the company so destructive that they outweigh any of the company's green efforts? What efforts, other than the manufacturing of these "green" products, are they making towards sustainability? Are they attempting to reduce their carbon footprint? Are they using sustainable materials when building new manufacturing facilities? Is the company treating its employees well and complying with all federal and local employment regulations?
At buildaroo.com we would like to make going green EASY. Going forward we will attempt to provide you with information not just about the products themselves, but also about the company as a whole. And we encourage you to also contribute your knowledge base, by leaving comments about products and companies with whom you are familiar, so that others can benefit from community knowledge.