How Small Businesses Learn to Be Green In Business

Green Marketing Guidelines of the FTC

by Chuck Peavey 25. October 2012 05:04

Federal Trade Commission Ruling Green

Tearing It UpThis may come as a surprise to my Treehugger friends but I couldn't be more delighted that the Federal Trade Commission is taking an interest in green claims and green product claims. In fact, a big reason for creating in the first place is that I wanted to help clean up the miss that is dishonest green marketing (Greenwashing).

Balancing Business With the Environment

The success of my web development company is important to me and at the same time, I want to preserve natural resources for the future. As a result, I find myself talking with a lot of people in the environmental community who are not very supportive of me, a business creator.

And when you see businesses like BP Oil who cut corners leading the the destruction of a lot of life in the Gulf of Mexico, you can't really blame them.

Business Condemnation by the Green Community

To say the environmental community doesn't trust the business community would be an understatement, I've heard environmentalists say that all businesses need to be eliminated.

Last year, I mentioned how Exxon Mobile decided to have it's retired ships deconstructed in Seattle rather than send them to India where they would be cut up and tossed into the ocean. To my environmentalist friends think it's just another Greenwashing scam designed to take our attention away from the fact that Exxon has done a lot to hurt the environment.

The fact that Exxon is doing something that makes a positive difference to the environment isn't the point in their eyes, anything Exxon does is not enough.

FTC Green Marketing Guidelines

So the FTC has come down with some guidelines for businesses who want to be green and they're pretty simple. You need to avoid general claims like "Our products are made with recycled content." You need to be more specific like 100% or 30% or .002% is made from recycled content and be able to prove it. If you use words like "Recyclable," you need to be able to back that up too.

If you get a green certificate it may look like a third party endorsement to consumers so you need to disclose any material connection like the fact you paid for the certificate. The certificate needs to clearly state the basis for the certificate and be able to substantiate all claims.

This is why we're excited, does several things we feel set us apart:

  1. We make it clear that you paid to be registered at right on the certificate
  2. The first thing you do is agree to our "Pledge of Sustainability" and we record that you agreed to it
  3. You are required to watch an education video that talks about being green in business, greenwashing and how to make a lasting positive impact on the environment
  4. Most important, your certificate is the result of a self evaluation that shows where you're at in your efforts to be green. It specifically lists the green practices you are doing in your business and allows you to come back and make updates as your business becomes more sustainable

But the best thing is that the FTC has worked out what you can and can't say about being eco-friendly. This means you don't need to figure it out for yourself, you can just follow their guidelines.

For more on how you and your business can make a difference, come visit me at

Chuck Peavey
Be Seen As Being Green

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Categories: Green in Business

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