Avoid the pitfalls of the Federal Trade Commission’s new Green Guides

Avoid the pitfalls of the Federal Trade Commission’s new Green Guides

Based on the mounting consumer confusion regarding “green” product claims, the Federal Trade Commission rewrote its Green Guides to lay out specific guidelines for what manufacturers can and can’t claim about “green products.”

I heard an FTC representative on a conference panel put it in a nutshell: “ ‘Green’ is an unsubstantiated claim.” And so are words like “organic,” natural” and “pure.” Based on such product claims, the FTC has filed suits against companies from Amazon to Sherwin-Williams.

“Sunscreen, yogurt, cereal, baby shampoo, deodorant, orange juice, milk, soap, toothpaste, vitamins, margarine, sneakers, granola bars, baby food, ice cream, diet margarita drink mix, bottled water, cosmetics—even cranberries and cat litter—have been targets,” wrote attorney Kristin E. Polovoy in Corporate Counsel.

As a rule, be careful about describing products as

  • organic,
  • natural,
  • healthy,
  • pure,
  • environmentally friendly, or
  • sustainable.


Posted on

July 11, 2013

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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