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How To See Past Greenwashing

According to an article on ThomasNet, when presented with an environmental claim about a product or service, purchasers can determine the accuracy and relevancy of the claim by asking the following:

• What type of environmental claim is being made?
Is the claim specific or general? If specific, what other product characteristics will influence the total impact on the environment and health?

• Is a copy of the environmental standard or testing protocol available for review?
What process was used to verify a product actually meets a standard or passed testing requirements? If a manufacturer cannot provide a copy of the environmental standard or testing protocol, one might suspect that the claim is only a marketing ploy.

• Who developed the environmental standard or testing protocol, and how was it developed?
What organization developed the environmental standard or testing requirement, and was it done in an open, public, transparent process? The most trusted standards are those developed in a consensus-based process by broad stakeholder groups. Standards developed by an individual manufacturer or trade association can be less trustful.

• What process is used to verify that products actually meet the standard or passed the testing requirements?
Some product-standard-verifying procedures include: 1) self-certification; 2) self-certification with random audits; 3) independent third-party certification; and 4) independent third-party certification with on-site audits.

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