Nearly all "green" consumer products make one false, misleading or unproven environmental claim to attract eco-conscious shoppers, a new study released today has found.
The massive probe of 5,296 products by Ottawa-based environmental marketing firm TerraChoice found at least one misleading green claim on 95.6 per cent of the items.
The situation is most dire for children's products, with 100 per cent of toys and 99.2 per cent of baby products guilty of some form of "greenwashing" when they make environmental claims.
"We did not find a single 'green' toy that was free of greenwashing, and only six of 706 baby products were 'sin-free,'" the report noted.
Greenwashing is the act of misleading consumers about the environmental practices of a company, or the environmental benefits of a product or service. And while the use of respected eco-labels helps prevent greenwashing, they don't always eliminate it.
Of products certified by a recognised third-party process, just less than one-third are free of any greenwashing -- compared with 4.4 per cent study-wide.
The study noted that while one product could make a number of accurate "green" claims, the existence of a misleading assertion would be considered greenwashing.
The report finds "vagueness" is the second-leading problem (a shampoo claimed it was "mother-earth approved") in "greenwashing".