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Greenwashing America

By Alan Caruba
web posted November 8, 2010

Every time you see some product being sold as "Green", allegedly safe or beneficial for the environment, you can be sure that it is likely more expensive than a comparable product that does the same thing without one this claim.

Recently I received a news release from a public relations firm touting clients selling Green cleaning 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 it is concerned about the environment you can be sure that it is trying to protect itself against lawsuits from environmental groups or Environmental Protection Agency action that will eat 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."

"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", adding that both companies "could benefit if more manufacturers seek third-party verification of the eco-claims."  You think?

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

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. Communists have always been big on re-education, a practice of nations such as China, Vietnam, North Korea, Cambodia, and others where you were expected change your mind and learn to love Big Brother. The alternative was that you either stayed in their concentration camps or were systematically murdered for the crime of having been an intellectual, a landowner, or a bourgeois capitalist.

Communism murdered more people in the last century than all its wars combined.

Environmental organizations, in league with an unquestioning mainstream media, have been greenwashing and brainwashing the public for decades. It usually takes the form of scare campaigns and, in the case of supermarket products, it is directed a chemicals, plastics, how livestock is raised, or some other totally superfluous "issue" that has nothing to do with the quality or price of the product. The object is always the same, to lay a huge 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 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.

Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency that generates the new laws and regulations is totally out of control. It has been in a regulatory binge anticipating a Congress controlled by Republicans.

This agency, created by Richard Nixon with an executive order in 1970, has to 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 have to know 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.

It is also a massive money-making scam and that's worth remembering the next time you're in the supermarket. ESR

Alan Caruba writes a daily post at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com. An author, business and science writer, he is the founder of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba, 2010

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