F.T.C. Kicks Off Green Marketing Hearings

F.T.C. Kicks Off Green Marketing Hearings

Is that offset legitimate, or is it greenwash?

That's the question facing the Federal Trade Commission, which is updating its green advertising guidelines a year before schedule because of the growing wave of environmental marketing claims.

During its first workshop Tuesday, agency members wondered where the millions of dollars spent on carbon offsets really went, according to the New York Times.

Several big-name brands have joined the carbon offset field in recent years, offering consumers the chance to neutralize the carbon emissions they generate when they make a purchase or attend an event. The money spent on the offsets is often put toward reforestation or renewable energy projects, such as wind or solar.

According to the Times, panelists at the workshop questioned the certifications behind the claims and wondered whether offset companies could be double-counting carbon reductions.

"Is there green substance behind the green sparkle?" Daniel C. Esty, co-author of "Green to Gold," told the Times. "The carbon market is a leading example of the challenge of making sure that when people put their money into what they hope will improve their planet, that there is real follow-through."