In the EnviroMedia Social Marketing survey of 1,022 Americans, 65 percent said having just one environmental label would give them more confidence that they were buying green.
Four out of ten said a third-party program, such as the Good Housekeeping Seal, should enforce green product claims. Another 26 percent thought this should be the job of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), while only 16 percent thought the advertising industry should police itself.
The survey also showed confusion about energy sources. A quarter of those surveyed thought coal was a renewable energy source, and another 15 percent said they don’t know.
Opinion Research Corporation carried out the survey by telephone, on behalf of EnviroMedia, between November 5 and 8.
EnviroMedia said it’s increasingly hard to determine if a product is really environmentally friendly.
“There are more than 350 labels or seals of approval that offer to help consumers know whether a product is green or healthy, which is classic information overload for the consumer’s brain,” said Kevin Tuerff, co-founder of EnviroMedia. “Having one comprehensive national seal to identify the best green products would limit consumer confusion and also hold advertisers accountable to one set of standards.”
The company has collaborated with the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication to create the Greenwashing Index, a website which allows consumers to rate the environmental claims made in advertising.
The FTC is also proposing revisions to its Green Guides, which advise advertisers on sustainability claims. Some of the biggest proposals include new guidance on use product certifications, as well as claims for renewable energy and carbon offsets.
The public comment period for the proposals ended December 10.
A study marketing company TerraChoice found that more than 95 percent of consumer products claiming to be “green” commit at least one greenwashing offense.