the four biggest ‘green’ marketing scams

April 25th, 2009

TheThinkMovement.com by j. sakiya sandifer

In greenwashing, as in life, there are seven sins. There’s the sin of the hidden trade-off, for example, the sin of vagueness, and the sin of no proof. So says sinsofgreenwashing.org, which takes on companies that offer seemingly green benefits — often at a hefty price tag — with little results. As the green trend continues, companies in almost every industry vie for a piece of the green market, even the embattled General Motors has taken a chance on its own green product initiative.

But as the field of green products grows, so does the number of impostors. The following is a list of some of the most perplexing green products out there-and an assessment of just how scammy they might be:  

Clorox “Green Works” products

Gas-saving magnets

Sephora’s “Natural Standards”

“Green” hand sanitizers

CLICK HERE to read the full article as reported on MSNBC.com


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Entry Filed under: Business, Think About It!


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  • 1. Hmmm  |  April 25th, 2009 at 12:14 PM

    wow. I bought that Clorox “Green Works.” I got suckered.

  • 2. Ben  |  April 27th, 2009 at 1:15 PM

    Following is a response posted by Ketchum on behalf of The Clorox Company:

    On behalf of The Clorox Company, I would like to respond to Amy Tennery’s article titled “The Four Biggest Enviro-Scams,� in which she criticizes the Green Works brand. It is our belief that Ms. Tennery misinterpreted key product information about Green Works Natural Cleaners, and I would like to provide the following facts to put her conclusions into context.

    First of all, the Green Works brand is committed to using the highest level of natural ingredients in each product. The majority of Green Works natural products are recognized by the EPA’s Design for Environment program for using safe chemistry, and we are working with the EPA to get the remainder of our products in the program.

    Since our launch, the Green Works brand has been transparent in our labeling of ingredients, our definition of natural and the percentage of natural ingredients in our formulas (95+ percent). In fact, to the best of our knowledge, no other company making natural household cleaning products lists, on label, the percentage levels of natural ingredients in their natural products. In terms of transparency, the Green Works brand not only lists all our ingredients on labels and on our web site but we have broadly communicated our belief that natural products should:

    o Be made from plant- and mineral-based ingredients
    o Be made with biodegradable cleaning ingredients
    o Not be tested on animals

    Tennery is quick to dismiss the natural profile of an ingredient, implying that it’s more important to be environmentally sustainable. We believe both are important, which is why we are confident in the ingredient choices we have made for our formulas.

    Corn-based ethanol – Tennery states that the environmental community has targeted corn-based ethanol for being “neither cost effective nor eco-friendly,� but these complaints are for using corn-based ethanol as a fuel source. This has nothing to do with how we use corn-based ethanol in Green Works products. From our standpoint, we would rather use a plant-based ethanol in our products than a similar petrochemical-based ingredient.

    Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – Only Green Works Natural Dishwashing Liquid and Green Works Natural Dilutable Cleaner contain this ingredient. SLS can be an irritant at high concentration levels — similar to other natural ingredients, such as citric acid (lemons) or acetic acid (vinegar). As an ingredient in our dishwashing liquid and our dilutable cleaner, SLS is present at low levels and is safe for the consumer.

    We are actively continuing to evolve the Green Works brand – from the formulas (as natural options become more widely available), and to packaging (going towards 100% PCR).

    Finally, Tennery comments about our “perplexing� relationship with Sierra Club. From our standpoint, it’s pretty straightforward. The Green Works brand wanted to contribute to environmental conservation by supporting one of the largest, grassroots organizations in the U.S. We are proud to continue our financial support of Sierra Club today.

    The Green Works brand stands for powerful cleaning done naturally and we have stayed true to that promise. Our proposition is aimed at the mainstream consumer who is interested in natural products that clean, are affordable and easily accessible. We are achieving our goal to mainstream natural cleaning and are proud of our leadership position in the Natural Cleaning Category.


    Jessica Buttimer
    Global Domain Leader, Green Works

  • 3. LearnHowToFish  |  April 27th, 2009 at 6:17 PM

    Interesting. Ben, are you the author of this response, or did you simply copy and paste it from some other source?

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