To my surprise, greenwashing is a much larger problem then I originally thought. Greenwashing is when a company decides to promote their product as “green” or “sustainable” although it isn’t at all. Probably one of the most shocking way greenwashing is used is to sell toys. Many toy products that can be bought in stores now-a-days have labels like “lead paint free.” This is all great when it is actually true. It is startling to hear of such cases like in 2007 when a toy company, Mattel, who produces Barbies and many other popular children’s toys, had a recall on most of its toys because of the discovery of lead paint on the toys. This isn’t the first instance of this happening either.
Toys R Us is another culprit in the greenwashing facade of the toy marketing world. Because going green is becoming more and more mainstream, more and more parents are expecting a certain standard for what they are going to let their kids play with. This may be why Toys R Us and other large toy stores are beginning the switch to reusable bags. This is great for cutting back on the use of plastic bags, but what about the toys? If kids are playing and being poisoned because of toxic chemicals on their toys, then what do these bags do then? This facade is used by many to employ that they are in fact sustainable when in reality it’s a front.
The dangers of greenwashing doesn’t just stop with toxic toys. It is also important to pay close attention to food, cosmetics, cleaning products, and even airlines. The move towards wanting more green and sustainable products is great, but it is getting lost in translation between companies and consumers. It is our job as consumers to look out for these labels and to fact check the label.