Busting the Buzzwords: Eco-Friendly
Friendly is great. We all benefit from giving, and receiving, kind words or a simple smile. Being eco-friendly is being kind to the earth, and there’s nothing to not love about that. We should all strive to live our lives in eco-friendly ways.
At Happsy, we applaud eco-friendly lifestyles. The problem is when the term eco-friendly is used as a marketing term. Why? Because “eco-friendly” is used and abused in so many ways, rendering it virtually meaningless.
Why Doesn’t “Eco-Friendly” Hold Much Weight?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which sets out guidelines that constitutes deceptive advertising, has even weighed in. They say that “eco-friendly” falls under the category of a general environmental benefit claims, and they make it clear in their Green Guides (a guidebook for marketers on making environmental claims) that “marketers should not make unqualified environmental benefit claims.” Basically, this means advertising should let people know what is meant by “eco-friendly.” Does it mean the production facility uses solar power? Maybe it means the product uses some organic ingredients. Perhaps “eco-friendly” is referring to something completely different altogether.
The core of the issue is that very few FTC cases are filed regarding the misuse of the word “eco-friendly.” There simply isn’t enough staffing or time to monitor the word. The reality is that every one of us continues to see “eco-friendly” plastered on everything from detergents to teas to disposable diapers, and it doesn’t end there. It is very often used in a way we might think is legitimate, and commonly in ways that leave us scratching our heads wondering how THAT could be called eco-friendly. The problem can get worse with imported products sold on online marketplaces which can completely fly under the radar of responsible terminology usage.
When Should I Believe a Product is Eco-Friendly?
So how can you be an informed consumer? First, if a product is labeled “eco-friendly,” determine what makes the product truly eco-friendly. Second, be very wary of the words “eco-friendly” paired with some forest clip art and no further explanation. Third, look for recognized third-party certifications that guarantee someone has checked and approved the product against pre-set guidelines.
Eco-friendly as a concept and way of life is great. Just be cautious when it’s used purely as a marketing buzzword. At Happsy, when we say we are eco-friendly, it’s because we package and manufacture our product in a way that allows us to make smart environmental decisions.