I hate getting suckered by a hoax, but it happens to most people. Probably everyone can recall falling for something they read on the 'net (most likely in some bulk e-mail) or believing in something that was later revealed to be an urban legend.
For that reason, I try to question some of the claims I come across when looking into environmental matters. Especially now that claiming to be green is such a great marketing tool. Often though, you have to apply a little blind faith and go with your gut.
This is why I was pleased to read about The Six Sins of Greenwashing, brought to my attention through a Greenbiz newsletter. Here's a portion of their article
In the spring of 2007, TerraChoice sent research teams into six category-leading "big box" retail stores with instructions to "record every product-based environmental claim they observed." In all, the teams examined 1,018 consumer products bearing 1,753 environmental claims. Products ranged from cleaning and personal care products to televisions and printers.
Of the products examined, "all but one made claims that are either demonstrably false or that risk misleading intended audiences," according to the report.
TerraChoice has isolated six methods by which the green claim is not always as accurate as a consumer would be led to believe, hence the six sins. Some could be "innocently" innacurate due to lack of detailed research, while others are deliberate falsehoods or omissions of information.
The report includes tips on how to avoid the misinformation, whether you're the business or the consumer, including the certifications that they feel you can count on. Check it out. Seems like a good reference.