What is Greenwashing?
‘Greenwashing’ is a marketing tactic which is defined as companies, either knowingly or unknowingly, investing more on marketing their products as green than creating products which actually benefit the environment. The trick is recognizing when a health, sustainability or eco-friendly claim is true or false.
To compare with the food industry, chicken in grocery stores is often touted as ‘free-range’ when in reality these animals are often still living in overcrowded coops. This is not an honest labelling of the product and is neither healthy for the chicken or the end-consumer. Unfortunately, it is up to you as the consumer to decipher the maze of health and environmental accreditations – this is a challenging task and that’s where we can help.
At the Center for Green Building, as qualified environmentalists and with over 10 years’ green building supply experience we take pride in doing the research for you and ensuring that we only stock trusted building supplies certified as truly green.
Painting a Green Picture
Choosing the right color to repaint a room in your home is often a difficult but satisfying decision to make. Deciding what paint is safe to use is a far more daunting task that requires time, research and an awareness of the signs of greenwashing. But, how do we differentiate the greenwashed home design product from genuine eco-friendly building supplies?
One thing to look out for is VOC which stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. These are the chemicals which are released into the air during the painting process. They damage indoor air quality which can impact your family’s health, as well as our environment. Many manufacturers claim limited or zero VOC content and it is important to be aware that they can also be found in carpet, new furniture, adhesives and other construction materials.
In recent years the Trade Commission (FTC) successfully brought charges against four large household paint brands. The FTC found that even these high-profile paint manufacturers had made unsubstantiated claims that their products were free of emission and containing zero VOCs, including during and immediately after painting. We carry Safecoat because we have conducted thorough research and know that this brand carries only zero VOC, California Proposition 65 and SCS certified paint which is non-toxic.
Genuine Eco-Certification is Key
Not all of us are environmental chemists, but here are a few certifications to keep on your radar when shopping for your eco-friendly home design project:
- California Proposition 65: The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment requires businesses to provide warnings about significant exposures to toxic chemicals that cause harm. Certified eco-paint brands, such as Safecoat meet all of the highest California Proposition 65 standards.
- Scientific Certification System Certified (SCS): California headquartered SCS Global Inc, offers third-party certification, validation, and verification for environmental, sustainability, safety and quality performance claims.
- USDA Certified BioPreferred: Biobased products are derived from plants and other renewable agricultural, marine, and forestry materials and provide an alternative to conventional petroleum derived products.
For instance, at wood stain and finish manufacturer Vermont Natural Coatings, whey leftover from the cheese manufacturing process is used as the primary non-toxic ingredient. FSC Chain of Custody Certification: The Forestry Stewardship Council only awards this to companies that manufacture wood products which have been sourced from well-managed forests. Leaders in non-toxic and sustainable wooden flooring Tesoro, only use Forest Stewardship Council certified wood and are non-VOC.
We consider ourselves to be your gatekeepers for green and eco-friendly products. We filter greenwashing so that you have a genuine supply of safe and green building materials which meet or exceed US environmental standards.