Eco-Friendly. Nontoxic. 100% Natural.
These labels are used to describe many products and services across the globe claiming to be green. According to The Washington Post, there are 80 different environmental buzzwords like these used in the U.S. alone and about 600 used worldwide. With so many environmental labels, we can assume that many companies are choosing to do the right thing, right?
Unfortunately, many products and services that claim to be green are not truly environmentally friendly. In fact, some “green” products and services are significantly worse than their synthetic counterparts. This particular practice of false advertisement is called “greenwashing” (or green sheen), and is quite prevalent in the consumer industry. Greenwashing occurs across multiple sectors and many companies are guilty, even ones widely accepted by consumers as environmentally friendly. According to a study by Terrachoice in 2010, 98% of 2,219 products surveyed were guilty of greenwashing. Additionally, green advertising has increased almost tenfold in the last 20 years and nearly tripled since 2006.
As consumers, we hold a lot of power with our ever-increasing demand for environmental products and services. A Nielsen study performed in 2015 found that 74% of millennials were willing to pay more for services and products that come from companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact. This number was up from 55% in 2014.
In order to hold businesses accountable and drive sustainable business practices, we must be knowledgeable consumers. With some investigative work, Oregon consumers can identify truly eco-friendly products and services. One way to ensure that a business or product is actually green, is to check for government-verified certifications, such as the EcoBiz certification.
The EcoBiz Difference
EcoBiz is a local environmental certification in Oregon that is administered by the Pollution Prevention Outreach (P2O) Team—a group of pollution prevention experts with staff from local government agencies and the Oregon DEQ. The job of the EcoBiz staff is to help businesses effectively reduce their environmental footprint through the use of pollution prevention techniques and verify their eco-friendly practices. EcoBiz currently certifies automotive, landscaping, and dry cleaning businesses, as well as public agencies.
The Triple Bottom Line
With EcoBiz, preventing environmental impact is only one element of certification. EcoBiz certification also addresses the economic vitality and human capital associated with each business, otherwise known as the Triple Bottom Line (People, Planet, Profit). For example, an auto shop may show monetary profit (Profit), but is using harmful solvents without providing protective equipment to employees, regularly exposing workers to carcinogens (People), and are washing vehicles outside near a storm drain that leads to the river (Planet). EcoBiz assists in identifying cost-effective alternatives to practices and products that are harmful to People and the Planet.
Hawthorne Auto Clinic was the first EcoBiz Certified auto shop in 1999. In many ways, they were a pioneer in the automotive sector, going above and beyond regulatory requirements and having a positive impact on the industry, environment, and Oregonians. Twenty years later, Hawthorne Auto Clinic continues to uphold and expand their high environmental standards.
Recent improvements at Hawthorne Auto Clinic include:
• Investing in paperless computer systems
• Acquiring boxes to safely store fluorescent tubes
• Recycling non-curbside plastics
• Installing a 17kW PV roof-top solar array
As a well-rooted Portland business, the Triple Bottom Line is part of what keeps their business sustainable.
"Auto repair is a dirty business, even at Hawthorne Auto Clinic. The more auto repair shops that meet the standards to certify, or recertify with EcoBiz, the lower the impact on air and water quality, and solid waste disposal." - Jim Houser, Owner
EcoBiz recognizes businesses that take voluntary actions, above and beyond what is legally required. Certification is verified by staff from Oregon DEQ and local government agencies.
Program requirements include:
• Reducing the use of toxic solvents
• Properly managing hazardous waste
• Adding secondary containment to tanks and drums
• Covering outdoor waste containers, tires, and metal
• Training employees on spill prevention and response.
Additionally, businesses are required to complete 80% of the program electives.
Elective options include:
• Using refillable containers to reduce waste
• Switching from harmful solvents to water-based cleaners
• Creating a plan for the reduction of toxic chemicals
EcoBiz works alongside each business to provide individual recommendations and solutions to environmental issues. Businesses receive guidance and free tools to work towards certification. Free tools provided can include spill kits to clean up hazardous materials, secondary containment pallets to contain spills from bulk chemicals, and refillable product dispensers.
Find a Certified Business
Click here to find a certified business near you! If you don’t see your landscaper or auto mechanic on the website, talk to them about becoming EcoBiz Certified—it’s free and can help them profit, while protecting the planet and community.