What Is Eco-Friendly?
Updated: Oct 17, 2022
Today I welcomed an entrepreneur who started an eco-friendly, sustainably solution for a plastic-free world called Dtocs.
What is eco-friendly, why is it important, and why should an entrepreneur care?
According to Merriam-Webster, the official definition of eco-friendly is: “not environmentally harmful.”
For products, this includes everything: production, packaging needs, and a safe environment to name a few. In fact, eco-friendly is so commonly used that there are actually a ton of eco-friendly logos.
Now I must admit I am not too familiar with the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides so I dug into their website a little bit and here is what I found.
The Green Guides were first issued in 1992 and were revised in 1996, 1998, and 2012, and the guidance they provide includes three areas:
1. General principles that apply to all environmental marketing claims
What does this mean?
According to Cornell Law School, “to prevent deceptive claims, qualifications and disclosures should be clear, prominent, and understandable.
To make disclosures clear and prominent, marketers should use plain language and sufficiently large type, should place disclosures in close proximity to the qualified claim, and should avoid making inconsistent statements or using distracting elements that could undercut or contradict the disclosure.”
A good example is the label “recyclable” on a children's toys – without further description, the claim "recyclable" would be considered deceptive if any part of the toy, package, components, etc., cannot be recycled.
The company behind a soda can, however, that is made entirely from recyclable material, can make such a claim and it would not be considered deceptive.
2. How consumers are likely to interpret particular claims and how marketers can substantiate these claims
There is a lot to unpackage in this one.
According to Cornell Law School, “it is deceptive to misrepresent, directly or by implication, that a product, package, or service offers a general environmental benefit.”
An example is a company making unsubstantiated claims, such as stating a product has an extensive environmental benefit with no negative environmental impact. That is a very bold claim that is difficult to prove true.
However, stating the company is eco-friendly with products made with recycled materials is a claim that can be substantiated.
3. How marketers can qualify their claims to avoid deceiving consumers
Free game from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – take it! The FTC has protecting consumers from fraud and deception business education, reports, policies, workshops, and forums online for free, and I love free education.
Eco-friendly products help create and promote green living. This helps us conserve energy and prevent noise, air, and water pollution – these business measures naturally lead to business savings, and that is why the entrepreneur should care.
Practicing energy conservation, recycling, investing in water-saving devices or energy-efficient equipment, such as solar power, has been proven to be more efficient and cost-effective than traditional energy use, and that is why it is important.
According to Green Business Bureau, “green companies and brands are typically more appealing to clients, customers and employees, and this appeal is growing steadily.
A company can increase sales to new customers who prefer to purchase from green businesses. The Nielson global online survey supports this conclusion, as do numerous other studies and surveys that track consumer trends.”
The Nielson survey had over 27,000 participates in 55 markets from Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, North America and South America to look at how consumers shop online, and that is why the entrepreneur should care.
Earning an eco-friendly badge does not happen overnight. Dtocs has been awarded the eco-conscious dinnerware badge, the USDA certified bio-based product badge, and the social compliance badge.