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4 Ways to Tell If a Company Is Really 'Green'

Words by 3p Contributor
Energy & Environment
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By Scott Huntington

Walk down the aisle of any grocery store, and it’ll be easy to see that there’s a growing trend toward eco-friendly practices and products. Then look online and you’ll see the same thing. NBC had a whole “green week,” Adidas created a new shoe made from ocean waste, and even Ford is touting an EcoBoost engine and products. But, how can you tell if a company is truly committed to environmental sustainability, or if it's just trying to cash in on the ever-growing eco-friendly market? Read on to find out.

1. Look for very specific claims


If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed shopping for products that are kind to the Earth, take a closer look at the label and the website. Speaking generally, the more specific the wording, the more likely it is to be genuine.

For example, something that says “all-natural” or “eco-friendly” doesn’t carry as much weight as a label that reads, “Made with 100 percent natural, organic and fair-trade ingredients” or, “Manufactured at a plant that has an ongoing plan to reduce carbon emissions.”

Precision Power Washing of Texas does this particularly well (see below). It calls many of its services “eco-friendly,” but so does everyone else. What sets the company apart is that it has a whole section of its website devoted to detailed information of how its service helps the environment.

2. Check for commitment


When in doubt about the eco-friendliness of a company, don’t be afraid to do some research to see how long the company has done good things for the environment. Also, if you’re just looking for some direction in regards to which companies are most committed to the Earth, there are some useful articles to peruse.

Keep in mind, even if you discover a company has “gone green” only recently, that doesn’t necessarily mean it has less-than-pure intentions. Sometimes companies are best equipped to strive toward environmentally-friendly practices only after the technology has been put in place to make it possible.

3. Ask within your personal conversations


There’s no harm in making a good effort toward buying major brands that profess both an awareness of sustainability and the willingness to do something positive about it. However, you can also do your part to support smaller businesses that are within your community.

When deciding to lend your patronage to a particular establishment, experiment with different ways to incorporate environment-related questions into your chats.

To help you determine a company’s intention, simply say, “Has your business done anything specific to combat climate change? This is a very important issue for me.” If a manager meets your answer with a blank stare or dismissive response, that kind of feedback may be your cue to look elsewhere when you need a service provider or product.

4. Study the packaging


Some companies might choose to sell eco-friendly products that feature bright, beautiful labels with pictures of trees and a recycling symbol, but those products are packaged in containers that aren’t even constructed with recycled materials. If a product’s package is made entirely or partially from recycled materials, that’s a sign that the company is trying to take an all-encompassing approach in making a meaningful difference.

In 2012, Starbucks Coffee launched cup sleeves that resulted in saving approximately 100,000 trees annually. Measures like that demonstrate the company doesn’t just talk about a desire to be kind to the Earth, but it actually uses products that support the intention.

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Hopefully, you now feel more confident that you’ll be able to maintain your priority of being kind to the environment when you shop. However, keep in mind that being a proactive consumer is a process. Although you may make some mistakes along the way, even being motivated to support companies that have green mindsets is a very important step in the right direction. It’ll minimize the size of your personal carbon footprint, too.

Image credits: WikiCommonsSpoolTuning | PPWTX | Starbucks

Scott Huntington is a writer and blogger. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington

3p Contributor

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