95% of "eco-friendly" products are total bullshit. As if the idea that companies would mislead customers into buying (nice, green!) Widget A over (horrid, unsustainable!) Sprocket B weren't bad enough, businesses love "green" claims, because they make people buy stuff.
According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 95% of consumer products marketed as "environmentally friendly" (or similar) had at least one misleading or false statement on their labeling. The fibbing ranged from seemingly minor ("vague or poorly defined marketing language, such as 'all-natural,'") to outright lies ("products falsely claiming to be compliant with the federal government's Energy Star program" and plastic products claiming to be free of phthalates and Bisphenol A that in fact contained those very chemicals.) Do not believe that anything is environmentally friendly, ever! Clean your house with vinegar and baking soda and only ever drink from a Mason jar, basically! Almost none of these claims is subject to independent verification and certification.
However, one thing to note about the above survey? It was conducted by "TerraChoice, a North American environmental-marketing company," which was "recently acquired by Underwriters Laboratories, an independent product-safety certification organization. Both TerraChoice and Underwriters Laboratories offer green-certification programs and could benefit if more manufacturers seek third-party verification of the eco-claims." Ka-ching!
But don't imagine for a second that misleading claims about products' level of "green"-ness will be going anywhere. "People are asking for [green products], they are not asking about price," says Caterina Conti, who works for an "environmentally friendly" clothing company called Anvil Knitwear Inc. "Companies are looking to align their brand with a product that adds value to their brand." And what adds more value than an unverifiable claim of ecological superiority? Anvil Knitwear, according to Women's Wear Daily offers an "eco-collection" of t-shirts made with organic and transitional cotton. "Transitional"! That's genius.
Meanwhile, a company called NewMerino exists to sell consumers on Australian wool by supposedly allowing retailers to track wool shipments all the way back to the sheep. A spokesperson says, "Some brands are naming the sheep so they can tell their stories online to consumers." ("Dolly's diary, Tuesday, October 26: Silage for breakfast. Tasty, but somewhat young, and under-fermented. Composed a sestina at mid-morning; worried about how Diana Tejada's firing will affect Sharron Angle's prospects for election. Highlight of day: found new spot in fence where I can lean under the wire to get the really good grass on the other side.")
I suppose we are left with the following lesson: Don't believe 95% of what advertisers tell you, about anything.