Green trade show offers environmental options

Various environmental topics covered at weekend event

With greater environmental awareness and a stronger push to go green, consumers need to be wary because not all products are created equal.

In fact, some companies are misleading potential customers by ‘greenwashing’ their products.

“Greenwashing is a practice of misleading the consumer about a product without substantial proof,” said Diana Pineda, one the keynote speakers at last weekend’s Green Solutions Trade Show, organized by Mid Island Co-op at Beban Park .

According to the study The Sins of Greenwashing by Terrachoice, an environmental marketing agency, companies guilty of greenwashing are committing seven sins: the hidden tradeoff, no proof, vagueness, irrelevance, lesser of two evils, fibbing and worshipping false labels.

The hidden tradeoff suggests a product is green by using a narrow scope – it might come from a sustainable resource, but the manufacturing of the product might use energy, produce greenhouses gases and create water and air pollution.

No proof is the sin of claiming an environmental trait without providing evidence, while vagueness can be using terms like ‘all natural’ on a label. All natural isn’t necessarily green, because chemicals such as arsenic and mercury are natural but poisonous.

Irrelevance is based on claims that are truthful but unimportant, such as aerosol cans claiming to be CFC-Free, when CFCs are banned.

The lesser of two evil refers to claims that are true but distract the consumer from the entire environmental impact of a product, such as products like organic cigarettes. And the sin of fibbing is making environmental claims that are false and false labels are logos or words that give the impression a product has been certified by a third party as an environmental product but isn’t.

Pineda, owner of Biocompostables, needs explanation of the business, said people need to familiarize themselves with certified third-party labels.

“People need to go for products that are eco-friendly,” she said. “See if you can recycle or compost it.”

To view the study, please go to www.terrachoice.com.

Visitors to the event, which featured 55 exhibitors and 10 seminars about different ways people can live a greener life, also heard from Jack Anderson, owner and president of Greenplan, who spoke about green home design.

Anderson designs custom green homes or retrofits homes with environmental upgrades, with features such as rainwater harvesting, onsite stormwater filtration, permaculture gardens, natural building materials and more. He said more people want to build in sustainable ways.

“What we are seeing is an evolution of consciousness in our society,” said Anderson. “People are now becoming more aware. They’re not basing their decisions only on economics. They’re making it on a feeling that they are responsible to the planet. They want to reduce their footprint.”

He said change is happening faster now that it was a few years ago and much of that change is a grassroots movement, rather than government direction.

“The reality is there is a much greater groundswell of a bottom up movement that is taking place on this planet everywhere,” said Anderson. “That is where the real power of change is coming from.”

For more information please go to www.greenplan.ca and www.biocompostables.ca.

Karelyn Goodall, spokeswoman for Mid Island Co-op, said it’s the biggest trade show the company has hosted and the first time it was held over two days.

Other seminars covered topics such as: water conservation, urban mini-farming, organic waste, energy-saving tips, natural lawn care  and more.

With greater environmental awareness and a stronger push to go green, consumers need to be wary because not all products are created equal.

In fact, some companies are misleading potential customers by ‘greenwashing’ their products.

“Greenwashing is a practice of misleading the consumer about a product without substantial proof,” said Diana Pineda, one the keynote speakers at last weekend’s Green Solutions Trade Show, organized by Mid Island Co-op at Beban Park .

According to the study The Sins of Greenwashing by Terrachoice, an environmental marketing agency, companies guilty of greenwashing are committing seven sins: the hidden tradeoff, no proof, vagueness, irrelevance, lesser of two evils, fibbing and worshipping false labels.

The hidden tradeoff suggests a product is green by using a narrow scope – it might come from a sustainable resource, but the manufacturing of the product might use energy, produce greenhouses gases and create water and air pollution.

No proof is the sin of claiming an environmental trait without providing evidence, while vagueness can be using terms like ‘all natural’ on a label. All natural isn’t necessarily green, because chemicals such as arsenic and mercury are natural but poisonous.

Irrelevance is based on claims that are truthful but unimportant, such as aerosol cans claiming to be CFC-Free, when CFCs are banned.

The lesser of two evil refers to claims that are true but distract the consumer from the entire environmental impact of a product, such as products like organic cigarettes. And the sin of fibbing is making environmental claims that are false and false labels are logos or words that give the impression a product has been certified by a third party as an environmental product but isn’t.

Pineda, owner of Biocompostables, needs explanation of the business, said people need to familiarize themselves with certified third-party labels.

“People need to go for products that are eco-friendly,” she said. “See if you can recycle or compost it.”

To view the study, please go to www.terrachoice.com.

Visitors to the event, which featured 55 exhibitors and 10 seminars about different ways people can live a greener life, also heard from Jack Anderson, owner and president of Greenplan, who spoke about green home design.

Anderson designs custom green homes or retrofits homes with environmental upgrades, with features such as rainwater harvesting, onsite stormwater filtration, permaculture gardens, natural building materials and more. He said more people want to build in sustainable ways.

“What we are seeing is an evolution of consciousness in our society,” said Anderson. “People are now becoming more aware. They’re not basing their decisions only on economics. They’re making it on a feeling that they are responsible to the planet. They want to reduce their footprint.”

He said change is happening faster now that it was a few years ago and much of that change is a grassroots movement, rather than government direction.

“The reality is there is a much greater groundswell of a bottom up movement that is taking place on this planet everywhere,” said Anderson. “That is where the real power of change is coming from.”

For more information please go to www.greenplan.ca and www.biocompostables.ca.

Karelyn Goodall, spokeswoman for Mid Island Co-op, said it’s the biggest trade show the company has hosted and the first time it was held over two days.

Other seminars covered topics such as: water conservation, urban mini-farming, organic waste, energy-saving tips, natural lawn care  and more.

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