Vancouver environmentalists push to end greenwashing

Is that greenwashing? A Vancouver based company is calling for labels Canada-wide that indicate a product’s environmental impact. They say some businesses are exaggerating how eco-friendly they really are. Ashley Burr reports.

When you pick up a packaged food product it’s required to have a nutrition label, now a Vancouver company is working to show the products’ environmental impacts too.

David Clement, the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center says green-washing occurs more often than not.

“I think there is a very fine line between clever marketing and fraud.”

‘Sustainable’, ‘green’, and ‘renewable,’ are all hot buzz words in the marketing world, but how can you be sure, as a consumer, you are being environmentally conscious or falling prey to greenwashing?

“I think a lot of companies are having meetings saying people really care about climate change,” Clement told CityNews.

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Greenwashing is when an organization spends more time and money on marketing itself as environmentally friendly but is not making impactful strides to positively impact the environment and often. But this is often difficult for consumers to know who and what to believe.

“They are trying to tackle serious concerns about climate change and the environment and many times it’s either not applicable or not valid.”

False or misleading environmental claims can be reported on a federal level to the Competition Bureau, but Paul Maughan-Brown with Vancouver-based company Sole, which prides itself on its carbon-negative products says more should be done to clearly inform consumers about what they are buying.

“If everybody could choose between products with a clear label, let’s say here are the carbon impacts of this product that would make it a whole lot easier for the consumer. Nutrition labels on food packing only become compulsory in the 90s so until then you had no idea what was in your food, so the hope is in 30 years people will look back mind blown that in the 20s you had no idea what the carbon footprint of a product was,” Maughan-Brown.

Sustainabiliteens Vancouver, a group of young people united in fighting for a more sustainable world, has been fiercely pushing against companies using greenwashing. Ryder Oliver-Green with the organization says a universal label indicating a product’s impact would be a powerful step forward.

“That would be really interesting and helpful to the public that really don’t have the time to dig into what I impacting the climate crisis,” Oliver-Green said.

“It’s a tricky issue because you don’t want to discourage brands from taking great positive steps, but you also don’t want people tricked into supporting a brand on sustainability when it doesn’t really exist,” Maughan-Brown added.

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