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Revised FTC Green Guides: The Video

October 2nd, 2012 No comments

FTC Green GuidesRevised FTC Green Guides: Now See the Movie

Austin, Texas  At Eco Marketing Solutions, our policy has always been that an educated customer is our best customer.

The FTC has just revised their Green Guides and we are going to make sure that we, and all our customers comply with these new changes.

Here is a link to a 7.25 minute video that sums up many of the new guidelines that you should find helpful.

Bottom line, back up and qualify and quantify all green claims.

Let’s all do our part to avoid green washing and make green claims more powerful and valid than ever before.

If you want more details from the FTC, this link from the FTC should help.

Here’s to a greener tomorrow, today.

 

Facebook.com/ecomarketingsolutions

Ask us Your Green Marketing Questions Anytime at  Facebook.com/ecomarketingsolutions and join the conversation.

————————————–——

Robert Piller, President of Eco Marketing Solutions, has over 25 years of experience in running and implementing green marketing campaigns and is a leader in the recycled promotional products industry, including offering one of the largest selections of reusable and organic tote bags, recycled and biodegradable water bottles, recycled pens and pencils in the country.

His company’s website, EcoMarketingSolutions.com, features over 25,000 eco-friendly promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green. The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find biodegradable, organic and recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame.

You can also reach him by email (robert (at) ecomarketingsolutions.com) or comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com or below at his Twitter link.

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Categories: greenwashing Tags:

FTC Issues Revised Green Guides to Help Prevent Green Washing

October 2nd, 2012 No comments

FTC Issues Revised FTC GuidesNew Green Guides Will Help Marketers Avoid Making Misleading Environmental Claims

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Federal Trade Commission issued revised “Green Guides” that are designed to help marketers ensure that the claims they make about the environmental attributes of their products are truthful and non-deceptive.

The revisions to the FTC’s Green Guides reflect a wide range of public input, including hundreds of consumer and industry comments on previously proposed revisions.  They include updates to the existing Guides, as well as new sections on the use of carbon offsets, “green” certifications and seals, and renewable energy and renewable materials claims.

“The introduction of environmentally friendly products into the marketplace is a win for consumers who want to purchase greener products and for producers who want to sell them,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.  “But this win-win can only occur if marketers’ claims are truthful and substantiated.  The FTC’s changes to the Green Guides will level the playing field for honest business people and it is one reason why we had such broad support.”

In revising the Green Guides, the FTC modified and clarified sections of the previous Guides and provided new guidance on environmental claims that were not common when the Guides were last reviewed.

Revisions to Previous Guidance. Among other modifications, the Guides caution marketers not to make broad, unqualified claims that a product is “environmentally friendly” or “eco-friendly” because the FTC’s consumer perception study confirms that such claims are likely to suggest that the product has specific and far-reaching environmental benefits.  Very few products, if any, have all the attributes consumers seem to perceive from such claims, making these claims nearly impossible to substantiate.

The Guides also:

  • advise marketers not to make an unqualified degradable claim for a solid waste product unless they can prove that the entire product or package will completely break down and return to nature within one year after customary disposal;
  • caution that items destined for landfills, incinerators, or recycling facilities will not degrade within a year, so marketers should not make unqualified degradable claims for these items; and
  • clarify guidance on compostable, ozone, recyclable, recycled content, and source reduction claims.

New Sections.  The Guides contain new sections on: 1) certifications and seals of approval; 2) carbon offsets, 3) free-of claims, 4) non-toxic claims, 5) made with renewable energy claims, and 6) made with renewable materials claims.

The new section on certifications and seals of approval, for example, emphasizes that certifications and seals may be considered endorsements that are covered by the FTC’s Endorsement Guides, and includes examples that illustrate how marketers could disclose a “material connection” that might affect the weight or credibility of an endorsement.  In addition, the Guides caution marketers not to use environmental certifications or seals that don’t clearly convey the basis for the certification, because such seals or certifications are likely to convey general environmental benefits.

Finally, either because the FTC lacks a sufficient basis to provide meaningful guidance or wants to avoid proposing guidance that duplicates or contradicts rules or guidance of other agencies, the Guides do not address use of the terms “sustainable,” “natural,” and “organic.”  Organic claims made for textiles and other products derived from agricultural products are covered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program.

The FTC first issued its Green Guides in 1992 to help marketers avoid making misleading environmental claims.  It revised the Guides in 1996 and 1998, and proposed further revisions in October 2010 to take into account recent changes in the marketplace.  The guidance they provide includes:

  • general principles that apply to all environmental marketing claims;
  • how consumers are likely to interpret particular claims, and how marketers can substantiate these claims; and
  • how marketers can qualify their claims to avoid deceiving consumers.

The Guides issued today take into account nearly 340 unique comments and more than 5,000 total comments received since the FTC released the proposed revised Guides in the fall of 2010.  They also include information gathered from three public workshops and a study of how consumers perceive and understand environmental claims.

The Green Guides are not agency rules or regulations.  Instead, they describe the types of environmental claims the FTC may or may not find deceptive under Section 5 of the FTC Act.   Under Section 5, the agency can take enforcement action against deceptive claims, which ultimately can lead to Commission orders prohibiting deceptive advertising and marketing and fines if those orders are later violated.

The FTC has brought several actions in recent years related to deceptive recyclability, biodegradable, bamboo, and environmental certification claims as part of its overall effort to ensure that environmental marketing is truthful and substantiated.

Consumer and Business Education.  The FTC today also released several business and consumer education resources designed to help users understand the Guides.  These include: 1) “Environmental Claims – Summary of Green Guides,” a four-page summary of the changes in the Guides; 2) “The Green Guides,” a video explaining highlights of the changes; 3) a new page on the FTC Business Center, with links to legal documents, the Guides and other “green” content; 4) a Business Center blog post; and 5) related consumer information.

The Commission vote approving the Guides was 5-0.  They will be published in the Federal Register notice shortly and are not subject to public comment.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.  To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).  The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.  The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.  Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

 

SOURCE Federal Trade Commission
PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1oQ7f)

Categories: greenwashing Tags:

The Green Guides Are Coming: What to Do?

August 3rd, 2011 No comments

The Green Guides Will define green marketing terminologyAustin, Texas: Marketers and the media are anxiously anticipating the release of the new FTC Green Guides, which will list the new rules for use of green marketing advertising–a sort of truth in advertising campaign.

Although the dates keep getting pushed back, when it is announced, the Green Guides will shift the landscape of green marketing–in the hopes of preventing greenwashing.

There is a great deal of news that terms such as green, carbon neutral, renewable energy and others will be re-defined… but nobody knows the final rulings.

What should a green marketer do?

Tell the Truth. The Whole Truth. And Nothing but the Truth.

Yes.  It’s that simple.

If you make a claim, back it up.

If you say an item is biodegradable, explain how your company defines this term. How long it takes to break down and in what environment.

If you say something is “green”, describe how it is green. Does it save resources in manufacturing or during usage?

If you say an item is made of recycled materials, tell the percentage and the material used.

Spell it out.

If you define the item and explain it, then your customer can compare it to other products and make an informed decision.

Do we like the government telling us what to say, how to say it, etc? Absolutely not.  But these guidelines are to be created because too many companies abused the lack of definitive definitions.

Promoting your green product or service is not hard.

Explain. Educate. Define.

State your benefits clearly and concisely.

Don’t leave any grey space.

Anticipate the questions and concerns your clients may have, and answer them.

That is all the public needs and wants.

Happy Promoting!
Ask Us Your Green Marketing Questions Anytime at  Facebook.com/ecomarketingsolutions and join the conversation.
——————————————

Robert Piller, President of Eco Marketing Solutions, has over 25 years of experience in running and implementing green marketing campaigns and is a leader in the recycled promotional products industry, including offering one of the largest selections of reusable and organic tote bags, recycled and biodegradable water bottles, recycled pens and pencils in the country.

His company’s website, EcoMarketingSolutions.com, features over 25,000 eco-friendly promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green. The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find biodegradable, organic and recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame.

You can also reach him by email (robert (at) ecomarketingsolutions.com) or comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com or below at his Twitter link.

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Should Green Marketing Companies Have a Higher Bar to Pass for Credibility?

June 5th, 2014 No comments

Raising the Bar for Green Marketing Claims

green marketers

 

 

Austin, Texas: As green marketers, we make lots of claims:

  • Organic
  • Environmentally-Friendly
  • Recyclable
  • Made from Recycled Materials

However, too many of these claims are unsubstantiated or vague, at best — and not up to the Green Guides standards.

I think that when making claims about product safety, health, and yes–environmental stewardship, we should always err on the side of full disclosure.

At Eco Marketing Solutions, we sell green promotional products: imprinted items that are made of recycled materials or from organic materials.

With over 400,000 products in our line, we have a team of people dedicated to updating every item in our online catalog for accuracy and disclosure.

We are not there yet, but we are working on it every single day.

It is a time-consuming (and expensive) task, but when finished, our customers will know if a product is made form post-consumer waste, what percentage of the product is made from recycled materials, etc.

Are you spending your time clarifying green facts and figures – or are you intentionally keeping things blurry?

Customers appreciate honesty–even if it is not entirely what they were hoping for.

There is too much pseudo information out there –which only make sour jobs as green marketers harder.

Casting a shadow of doubt on your product only makes your company seem less than honest.

Green marketers should be held accountable to a higher standard–as we are all in this together.

Here’s to a greener tomorrow, today!

——————-

Robert Piller, President of Eco Marketing Solutions, has over 33 years of experience in running and implementing promotional marketing campaigns and is a leader in the recycled promotional products industry, including offering one of the largest selections of organic promotional products,   imprinted bamboo promotional items, imprinted live tree seedlings and plant giftsseeded paper promotional items and  recycled imprinted pens and pencils in the country.

In addition to being a noted writer on issues of social and safety compliance, Robert Piller has recently completed his CAS degree and BASI degree — one of the highest honors in the promotional products industry for his years of continuous education and certification.

His company’s website, EcoMarketingSolutions.com, features over 250,000 eco-friendly promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green and promoting environmental stewardship. The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find organic and recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame.

Eco Marketing Solutions has a strong Code of Conduct as they carefully vet and qualify all their suppliers.

You can also reach him by email (robert (at) ecomarketingsolutions.com) or comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com or below at his Twitter link.

Facebook.com/ecomarketingsolutionsAsk us Your Green Marketing Questions Anytime at  Facebook.com/ecomarketingsolutions and join the conversation.

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Going Green Also Means Vetting Your Vendors More Carefully

November 13th, 2013 No comments

How Well Do You Vet Your Vendors?

how do you qualify your promotional products providerAustin, Texas: When was the last time you actually vetted any of your vendors?

Do you trust every ad or product claim that uses the word “green” or “eco-friendly”?

Even the word “natural” gets green washed these days. Just because something appears on the planet naturally does not mean I want to ingest it (take that natural elements Plutonium and Polonium!!)

I received an urgent call this morning from a former client that decided to order his annual shopping bags from another vendor this year in order to save 6 cents each on 20,000 bags.

After five years of producing their bags, they decided to “go in another direction”, according to the new sales manager.

Though a $1200 “savings” is nothing to sneeze at — it is not “cheapest”–but “best value” that wins the battle in the long run.

Bottom line, those 20,000 bags  that they had paid for and ordered have been randomly tested and found to contain lead content that far surpasses allowable levels–so they are all going to have to be destroyed.

My hope is that any reputable promotional products company would have strongly suggested getting a lead test from from certified third party source prior to production and using only a well-vetted factory that understands CPSIA and other consumer safety regulations.

We always do that on import bag orders..and yes a third party lead test can cost several hundred dollars. But it is worth every penny.

Now, the sales manager is scrambling to find an American-made tote bag that we can produce for him in time.

It will be a cotton bag as nobody produced laminated polypropylene in the US..so his costs will be 2-3 times the cost of the imported bag.

Add to that the wasted money on the first bags he had ordered through a different company– and these imprinted tote bags will cost him way over budget.

Promotional products all look similar.  In fact, many are very similar and often come from just a handful of factories.

The key is knowing which are the right factories to choose.

But the difference in your promotional product order is the experience that your distributor brings to the table–in terms of product selection and problem avoidance.

Yes–problem avoidance.  I was going to say problem resolution – but avoiding problems is much simpler if you know what you are doing from the start.

Spend some time and carefully vet your suppliers.

Be sure your vendors are up-to-speed on CPSIA, Green Guides and other consumer product safety laws and regulations.

Do they have a strict Code of Conduct?

The promotional products that you hand out are a reflection of your company.

Don’t cut costs by reducing quality or bending rules (or ignoring them altogether).

It is easy to be the cheapest guy on the block.

It is another thing to be in the promotional products business since 1981 and be up-to-speed on product quality and safety issues — and save the client from embarrassment, poor publicity and costly product recalls.

Which path do you prefer?

Are you willing to pay a few pennies more for peace of mind?

Happy Marketing.

Here’s to a greener tomorrow, today.

——————-

Robert Piller, President of Eco Marketing Solutions, has over 30 years of experience in running and implementing green marketing campaigns and is a leader in the recycled promotional products industry, including offering one of the largest selections of organic promotional products,   imprinted bamboo promotional items, imprinted live tree seedlings and plant giftsseeded paper promotional items,  recycled imprinted pens and pencils in the country.

In addition to being a noted writer on issues of social and safety compliance, Robert Piller recently completed his CAS degree and BASI degree — one of the highest honors in the promotional products industry for his years of continuous education and certification.

His company’s website, EcoMarketingSolutions.com, features over 25,000 eco-friendly promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green. The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find organic and recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame.

Eco Marketing Solutions has a strong Code of Conduct as they carefully vet and qualify all their suppliers.

You can also reach him by email (robert (at) ecomarketingsolutions.com) or comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com or below at his Twitter link.

Facebook.com/ecomarketingsolutionsAsk us Your Green Marketing Questions Anytime at  Facebook.com/ecomarketingsolutions and join the conversation.

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The Value of Your Green Marketing Claims is Transparency

February 4th, 2013 No comments
Are Your Green Claims Valid?

How Transparent Are Your Green Marketing Claims?

How Transparent Are Your Green Marketing Claims?

Austin, Texas: I just came back from a week long trade show and was disappointed in the number of green claims being made by manufacturers and potential vendors.

After I reminded them of the new Green Guides, many of them either laughed it off, ignored it, or mumbled some sort of remark like, “that doesn’t hold for us”, or “that’s only for California” or some other asinine and smarmy comments.

There were some heated conversations when I refused to back down and told them to read up on the rules — before claiming that the products they want me to sell are “biodegradable” – when they do not conform to those old rules any longer.

Yes, the new Green Guides hold just as true in Texas  or Montana as it does for California and every other state.

A green business needs to be transparent in their claims.

All of their claims. Not just the ones that are convenient.

Explain how your product or service helps the environment, or reduces energy consumption or is made of a high percentage of recycled material — then back those claims up.

If you can’t back them up, state that too.

People will give you credit for working toward getting greener than to make unsubstantiated claims.

I will be spending much of this year reviewing the claims from my factories – and eliminating many of my suppliers – as well as re-writing and re-evaluating their claims.

I would suggest that you do the same to your own product line.

Here’s to a greener tomorrow, today!

————————————–——

Robert Piller, President of Eco Marketing Solutions, has over 28 years of experience in running and implementing green marketing campaigns and is a leader in the recycled promotional products industry, including offering one of the largest selections of recycled and reusable water bottles and imprinted coffee mugs, reusable and organic tote bags, recycled pens and pencils in the country. In addition to being a noted writer on issues of social and safety compliance, Robert Piller recently completed his CAS degree — one of the highest honors in the promotional products industry for his years of continuous education and certification. His company’s website, EcoMarketingSolutions.com, features over 25,000 eco-friendly promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green. The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find biodegradable, organic and recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame.

You can also reach him by email (robert (at) ecomarketingsolutions.com) or comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com or below at his Twitter link.

Facebook.com/ecomarketingsolutionsAsk us Your Green Marketing Questions Anytime at  Facebook.com/ecomarketingsolutions and join the conversation.

 


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3 Trends in The Green Movement This Year

December 10th, 2012 No comments

recent green trendsRecent Trends In “Going Green”

Austin, Texas: As 2012 winds down, I wanted to comment on recent trends that I have noticed in green marketing in general.

Here are three trends that seem to stand out most clearly over the past few months:

1) Promoting Better Quality : Customers have been putting more emphasis on reducing waste and improving the quality of their green products.

In the past, green products did not always correlate with with high quality.

These days, the quality and workmanship in eco-friendly products have become second to none as buyers have been demanding it.

I see this trend continuing as greater economies of scale are now available for green product producers.

2) Increased Participation in Green Alternatives: I have seen an increase in customers from a wider spectrum of industries than ever before as the green movement has regained its strength and momentum this year.

Leading companies in nearly every industry have taken the initiative to become better stewards of the earth and have been sourcing eco-friendly alternatives to many of their existing purchases.

It is very encouraging that more companies are calling us to ask about greener promotional products for their corporate gifts–both for internal and for external use.

We have seen it in our 23% increase in green promotional products this year – and many of my friends in recycled and renewable products have also seen double-digit sales gains as well.

3) Walking the Walk: As the focus has been on the new FTC Green Guides and more emphasis in truth in advertising, I have noticed a substantial increase in the number of my clients that have gone back to the basics to better understand with the basics of Green Marketing 101.

Many of them have done a careful review of their green claims – as well as placed a renewed emphasis of making sure they are practicing green behaviors in all aspects of their business–including manufacturing, human resources, procurement, etc.

If your company is claiming to be eco-friendly, I encourage you to do a self-analysis to make sure that you are taking noticeable steps to reduce your carbon footprint.

I am confident that these green trends will continue in the near future.

How are you planning to become more green in 2013?

——-

Facebook.com/ecomarketingsolutionsAsk us Your Green Marketing Questions Anytime at  Facebook.com/ecomarketingsolutions and join the conversation.

————————————–—— Robert Piller, President of Eco Marketing Solutions, has over 28 years of experience in running and implementing green marketing campaigns and is a leader in the recycled promotional products industry, including offering one of the largest selections of recycled and reusable water bottles and imprinted coffee mugs, reusable and organic tote bags, recycled pens and pencils in the country. In addition to being a noted writer on issues of social and safety compliance, Robert Piller recently completed his CAS degree — one of the highest honors in the promotional products industry for his years of continuous education and certification. His company’s website, EcoMarketingSolutions.com, features over 25,000 eco-friendly promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green. The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find biodegradable, organic and recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame. You can also reach him by email (robert (at) ecomarketingsolutions.com) or comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com or below at his Twitter link.

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Categories: go green Tags:

Be More Transparent in Your Green Marketing Claims

October 26th, 2012 No comments

Green Marketing 101: Be Honest in Your Green Advertising

Is your green marketing claim misleading or false?

Is Your Green Marketing Message Misleading?

Austin, Texas: After spending the past few weeks speaking and blogging about the new FTC Green Guidelines, I was shocked to see one of my top customers making misleading claims.

They were sponsoring an activity at a large outdoor festival and promoting an imprinted T-shirt that had just 5% recycled materials –with the headline: Get a Free Recycled T-Shirt when Stopping by their Booth.

This was from a client that knows better and I took her to task.

5% recycled does not make a shirt a “Recycled Shirt!”

Truth in advertising would state: Get a Free T-Shirt made of 5% Recycled Material.

or, at least: Get a Free Partially Recycled T-Shirt (up to 5% Recycled).

Any misleading claims, whether done on purpose or in innocence, waters down the effectiveness of green marketing.

False claims can get you in trouble with the FTC.

It is better to err on the safe side than to make green claims in your marketing that cannot be backed up.

Talk to your promotional products vendor and find out the recycled percentage.  If they are a green professional, they should know this information and present it to you.

Ignorance of the law is not innocence– as my law school friends used to tell me whenever I feigned a lack of knowledge about something.

Start using qualifiers (like “partially recycled”) and state the exact percentage of recycled material that goes into a product.

Don’t let a claim that cannot be backed up ruin your overall marketing or advertising claims.

With the growth of social media, people love to nitpick and call out marketers for a number of reasons–poor service, misleading claims, slow delivery, etc.

Don’t let people play GOTCHA with you.

Be straightforward in your green marketing claims- and stay on the good side of the FTC — and your customers.

A little prudence goes a long way.

Here’s to a greener tomorrow, today.

——-

Facebook.com/ecomarketingsolutionsAsk us Your Green Marketing Questions Anytime at  Facebook.com/ecomarketingsolutions and join the conversation.

————————————–——

Robert Piller, President of Eco Marketing Solutions, has over 25 years of experience in running and implementing green marketing campaigns and is a leader in the recycled promotional products industry, including offering one of the largest selections of reusable and organic tote bags, recycled and biodegradable water bottles, recycled pens and pencils in the country.

His company’s website, EcoMarketingSolutions.com, features over 25,000 eco-friendly promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green. The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find biodegradable, organic and recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame.

You can also reach him by email (robert (at) ecomarketingsolutions.com) or comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com or below at his Twitter link.

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Categories: green marketing Tags:

Is There Really a Need for an International Green Chamber of Commerce?

March 25th, 2011 No comments

green certification and green seals of approvalsI just received a press release about an organization called  the EcoChamber, which claims to be “the global green chamber of commerce”.  They say that they have  “more than 1,100 global listings, 2,100 Twitter followers and 700 Facebook fans”, which is a nice start.

Their mission seems lofty and innocent enough as it is listed in the release: “Our mission is to help the growth of green businesses worldwide,” commented EcoChamber’s founder Tia Diaz-Balart. “By helping deliver customers, investors and other stakeholders to companies and organizations who are doing right by the environment, we can not only encourage other companies to adopt sustainable practices, but also help have a positive cumulative net impact on our ecosystems through the global green economy.”

However, does a need for a non-profit “global” chamber of commerce  exist — or will its certification lead to more confusion and uncertainty in the marketplace?  Because of all the seals of approvals and certifications from an alphabet soup of organizations, the FTC has come down hard on green washing claims to help avoid confusion in the marketplace in its new Green Guides.

If we can have just a handful of seals that can be used–one for organic, one for biodegradable, one for recycled — like we do for recyclable materials, I think we will all be better served.  Just as the government has stepped in to make Nutritional Labels standardized, I think it will need to insist on a certain structure for all green claims in order to avoid potential for greenwashing –whether inadvertent or not.

That being said, do you think a global green Chamber of commerce is needed?  Please share your thoughts.

Let’s Make Every Day, Earth Day!

——————————————

Robert Piller, experienced in green marketing campaigns and recycled promotional products,  has worked to help plant over 25 million trees through his live tree seedling gift program over the past dozen years.   His company’s website, EcoMarketingSolutions.com, features over 25,000 eco-friendly promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green.  The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find biodegradable, organic and recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame.

You can also reach him by email (robert (at) ecomarketingsolutions.com) or comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com.


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New FTC Green Guidelines and How They Might Impact Your Earth Day Marketing Plans

March 21st, 2011 No comments

changes to FTC Green Guidelines for Earth DayFor those organizations and businesses that are planning Earth Day celebrations this April, it might be time to familiarize yourself with some of the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed revisions to its Green Guides.

Though these Guidelines are not the Law, and will probably see many rounds of changes, here are some of the key revisions the the 1998 Green Guides, according to the Better Business Bureau.

  • Marketers should not make unqualified general environmental benefit claims such as “green” or “eco-friendly”.  According to the Guides, these claims are difficult, if not impossible, to substantiate.
  • Seals and Certifications are considered “endorsements.”  This means that marketers may need to disclose any material connections with the certifier.  Third-party certification does not eliminate a marketer’s obligation to have substantiation for its claims.
  • An unqualified claim that a product or package is biodegradable means that it will completely decompose is no more than one year after customary disposal.  Marketers should not make unqualified degradable claims for items destined for landfills.
  • The Guides address claims of recyclability and introduce a three-tiered analysis for disclosing the limited availability of recycling programs.
  • Marketers making “renewable energy” claims should specify the source of the renewable energy.  If a company sells Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for the renewable energy they generate, should not represent that they use renewable energy.
  • Marketers making “carbon offset” claims should disclose if the offset purchase funds emission reductions that will not occur for two years or longer.

Best advice, deal with reputable organizations and ones that can provide Third Party Certification to back up its claims.

For more information, visit the BBB website or FTC Green Guides website.

——————————————

Robert Piller, experienced in green marketing campaigns and recycled promotional products. His web site includes a comprehensive advertising specialty search, featuring over 250,000 eco promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green.  The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find recyclable, biodegradable, organic or recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame. View the Go Green website at EcoMarketingSolutions.com and comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com.