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Warning: "Green" products not so green

So-called green cleaning products are taking up more and more shelf space in our stores. But are these labels to be believed?

The Observatoire de la consommation responsable attempted to answer this question by looking at 840 kinds of cleaning products sold in Quebec. The final report (French only) shows that consumers need to take a closer look at environmental claims before making a purchase. It also includes recommendations for manufacturers.  

The main message? Watch out for greenwashing –  the art of hiding a conventional product behind green hoopla, i.e., marketing. The best way to do this is to look for third-party certification from an independent body such as EcoLogo or Design for the Environment: products with these labels should pose no risk to environmental or human health.

The Observatoire recommends that the industry practice transparency and put an end to the practice of overlabelling, which has the opposite of the desired effect. Instead of increasing consumer confidence, it makes consumers wary, creating an obstacle to the practice of responsible consumption.