Spot the green

Which of the following green-coloured products are made using recycled paper or make any other claims toward environmental sustainability?

The answer, of course, is none. They’re just green-coloured.

That’s the problem with greenwashing. There is no standard body to say what environmentally-friendly claims can be made and which ones can’t. And even if there were such a body with strictly-enforced rules, nothing prevents a company from simply using green-coloured packaging to subtly fool consumers into thinking that there is an environmental benefit to choosing a green product over a non-green version.

What’s the difference between these two products? They’re both from the same company, both weigh the same and are made from the same material. The difference, if you look at the numbers at the bottom, is that the green-coloured package has sheets that are half the size as those the blue-coloured package, and offsets that by having twice as many sheets.

In other words, the only difference between the two is that the one on the left has twice as many perforations. And yet there’s a sense that, because it’s green, it’s better for the environment somehow.

The one product on the shelves that does make green claims is this jumbo package of paper towels from President’s Choice. The paper towels here are printed on made using recycled paper, and I believe once you throw them away will explode into butterflies or something.

Whose bright idea was it to associate such a complicated, easily-abused marketing concept with little more than a colour?

10 thoughts on “Spot the green

  1. Eric

    I never thought the green meant environmentally friendly, I buy the Charmin because it has a green meadow on it which I assume was where the trees that made it once stood, meaning that it is new paper that is touching my ass and not some other paper with an unknown history, or god forbid recycled toilet paper.

  2. Emmanuelle

    Actually, have you seen the Montreal Auto Prix (or was it Encans H Gregoire?) ad “Acheter usagé c’est recycler” ? Uh, sure, soooo green :-D
    Let’s recycle!

  3. Anon Imous

    A couple of nits:

    “The paper towels here are printed on recycled paper…” Huh? “PRINTED”? ;-)

    And as for the package with twice as many sheets (at half the size each), the only semi-credible “green” argument might be that if and when you only want a small amount of the stuff, you can do so easily without having the make the effort to rip a sheet in the middle, thus making it marginally easier to use it thriftily…

    (Compared to other places where I occasionally post, I miss a preview feature on this blog…..)

  4. mars

    Once upon a time there were “PC Green brand garbage bags” made with recycled plastic (except drawstring). They vanished about a year ago. No other recycled choices available since under the Loblaws banner, but kitchen sized compostable bags have been introduced. Canadian Tire can’t even claim anything to date in their aisle.

  5. princess iveylocks

    Probably the same people who thought “blue menu” – calorie-reduced food. Personally I feel bland, tasteless gray is the more logical option.

    FYI: go with the Charmin, worth every quilted luxurious penny.

  6. Karine

    I never made the association of the green in the paper towel’s packaging with the environment. Unless they come out and say it’s supposed to be environmentally friendly, I don’t go there.

    PS: I see that Pat Lagacé has created a mini fire storm over you on his blog…

  7. Christopher

    Well, what I keep saying is: whichever marketing guru thought it was a good idea to take crazy environmentalism and turn it into mainstream marketable products is probably FILTHY RICH right now.

  8. maria

    Good morning dear people – the ONLY thing I have to comment about this so called GREEN is “b-s”
    and YES I agree with the comments made by Christopher above – these people are definitely FILTHY RICH at the expense of our stupidity and naiveness …… what ticks me is that STORES no longer supply plastic bags because of this BS story – BUT hey, if you give them 5 cents they will give you as many bags as you want … so the double standard, the hypocrisy of these people claiming to be concerned about our global situation is a crock … ALL these people are playing with our heads, planting a seed in brainwashing us all – to believe and accept everything they tell us – WE are all so blind to what is actually going on …..FREE WILL ?? get ready, I feel the worst is yet to come.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      It’s 5 cents a bag, not 5 cents for “as many bags as you want”. The charge is trivial so it doesn’t break the bank but provides a psychological incentive not to use them. And it works.


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