Some consumers are interested in making sustainable purchasing decisions when they go shopping. If this sounds like you, you may be interested in learning about environmental standards and certifications in BC. There are a lot of products and services out there advertised or labelled as environmentally friendly, but how do you know which ones are legitimate?
While this isn’t an area that we oversee, we’ve gathered some information from the Government of BC with some tips for what to look for when you are trying to shop sustainably.
What is greenwashing?
Greenwashing is the act of misleading consumers about the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service. Some examples of this are when the environmental claims on a product/service are too vague, lack proof, obscure important information, or if the claim is simply untrue.
Things to look out for
Beware of ‘eco’ labels with vague details of their environmental standards/promises. Sometimes these products will have labels with stereotypical environmental symbols on them (leaves, planets, trees, waves, water droplets, etc.), but often you won’t be able to find any specific information about their environmental efforts/claims.
Rely on ‘eco’ labels that are created by reputable sources. The Government of BC suggests relying on labels that are created by government agencies, industry associations, and not-for-profits. Sometimes businesses will create their own ‘eco’ label that doesn’t necessarily meet environmental standards or hold any real meaning.
Become familiar with the legitimate ‘eco’ certifications and standards. There are many different certifications and standards out there and it can be difficult to distinguish legitimate environmental claims from misleading ones. The provincial government has a list of labels that are commonly used in North America and are associated with the kinds of products/goods that the Province buys.
For more information about the connection between purchasing decisions and the environment, visit the Procurement and Environment page on the Government of BC website.
About Consumer Protection BC
We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.