Greenwashing America

Alan Caruba
By Alan Caruba | November 8, 2010 | 5:47 AM EST

Every time you see a product being sold as “green,” and therefore supposedly safer for the environment, you can be sure that it is more expensive than a comparable product that does the same thing without making this claim.

Everything you eat, drink, wear or use begins as a “natural” product. It is absurd to think that calling it “green” improves it in any fashion. To put it another way, a carrot is a carrot is a carrot.

Recently I received a news release from a public relations firm touting clients selling green products such as “Parsley Plus All-Purpose Cleaner,” along with “stylish organic bed linens, “natural and organic clothing,” a “99.6% natural line” of shampoos, and “100% bamboo towels.”

In a similar fashion, every time you hear a corporation claiming that it is concerned about the environment, you can be sure that it is trying to protect itself against lawsuits that will cut into its profits and dividends.

A recent Wall Street Journal article, “Misleading Claims on ‘Green’ Labeling,” cited a study asserting that “more than 95% of consumer products examined committed at least one offense of ‘greenwashing,’ a term used to describe unproven environmental claims, according to TerraChoice, a North American environmental-marketing company that issued the report.”

What’s an environmental-marketing company? By reading further down in the article, one learns that “TerraChoice was recently acquired by Underwriters Laboratories, an independent product-safety certification organization.” The article added that both companies “could benefit if more manufacturers seek third-party verification of the eco-claims.”  You think?

Consumers Union, an independent testing company, built its reputation on its review of various products. Underwriters Laboratories has done the same. Not surprisingly, third party certification has been offered by some major environmental organizations as yet another way to raise a few bucks. But, according to the article mentioned above, there is no reason to believe any green product claim, particularly since TerraChoice has announced it is probably a scam.

It is no accident that the term “greenwashing” is akin to “brainwashing,” a term that came out of the Korean War when it was learned that American prisoners of war were subjected to “re-education” by their captors.

Environmental organizations, in league with an unquestioning mainstream media, have been greenwashing and brainwashing the public for decades. This usually takes the form of scare campaigns, and in the case of supermarket products, it is directed at chemicals, plastics, how livestock is raised, or some other “issue” that has nothing to do with the quality, price or safety of the product. The object is always the same -- to lay a guilt trip on the consumer, i.e., to greenwash them.

Green product claims go hand-in-hand with the metastasizing green regulations whose bottom line raises the costs of everything in America these days.

Angela Logomasini of the Competitive Enterprise Institute is an expert on regulatory affairs. When it comes to the environment, Congress passed 1,163 new laws between 1973 and 2006. Ms. Logomasini found that only 85 of those statutes reduced government regulation, while 795 increased it. The remaining statutes were deemed to lack significant regulatory impact.

Five of the fifty volumes containing the federal regulatory code are devoted exclusively to environmental regulation and an additional twelve also address environmental regulation in some respect. The Small Business Administration concluded that environmental regulation is the leading regulatory expense for businesses with fewer than 20 employees, averaging $3,296 per worker.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which generates new regulations, has been on a regulatory binge, anticipating a Congress controlled by Republicans. Nothing rational explains President Obama’s continued reference to greenhouse gas emissions, green cars, and especially green jobs when so many Americans are out of work.

The EPA, created by Richard Nixon with an executive order in 1970, should be downsized to its original mandate -- ensuring clean air and clean water. When it began to define rain puddles as navigable waters and ordinary dust as a pollutant, you realize just how crazed and dangerous it has become.

It will take a generation or two for Americans to shake loose of the insanity that is environmentalism. Long seen as a religion, it seeks total control over every aspect of your life.