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It’s Easy Being Green(washing)

The interwebs are a wonderful, yet dangerous place. What starts as a quick reference search can quickly devolve into a Google death spiral of unrelated content.

Source: Youtube | Bing

Going down one of these rabbit holes can result in the slow, meme-filled death of an afternoon’s productivity. Yet, sometimes you emerge with some awesome, useful info. Recently, I hopped out with a rare, happy find: The 7 Sins of Greenwashing*.

At Thread, we’re laying the foundation to do a lot of positive things, but we know that inaccurate or misleading reporting could negate our do-goodery.

The 7 Sins of Greenwashing published by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and posted on the Federal Trade Commission website, add some research and validity to what we’ve known all along – Green marketing can be a tricky, scary business.

According to the report studying 5,296 home and family products, over 95% of all “Green” positioned products studied committed one of the following sins:

  1. Sin of the hidden trade-off
  2. Sin of no proof
  3. Sin of vagueness
  4. Sin of irrelevance
  5. Sin of lesser of two evils
  6. Sin of fibbing
  7. Sin of worshiping false labels (falsely implying a third-party endorsement)

*These are pretty much exactly what they sound like, for more detail please refer to the full report.

95-freakin’-percent! And most of those sin categories are blatant. The good news? Retailers are dedicating more space to green products than ever before, ‘Big Box’ retailers are actually leading the way in product offerings, and, perhaps most encouraging of all, the data is improving over time.

Since Day 1, our policy at Thread has been to be transparent to a fault in everything we do. It’s important to talk about our products and operations – good and bad. It’s pretty rad that we will soon be sharing our positive social and environmental impact story, but we want to be genuine in our reporting, not use it as convenient PR spin.

What started off as an unrelated Google search ended with a pretty clear definition of the pitfalls we know exist. The guesswork is gone. Now it’s our turn to take this information and lead by example.  We can’t wait to make you proud.


* All of the following stats and figures, unless noted otherwise, are from this report. I did my best to paraphrase and cite appropriately. Read the full report for the authoritative look at greenwashing.

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