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Unravelling the “natural” knot

July 2012

It is confusing to try to figure out which products are genuinely green and responsible. Greenwashing is the term used when companies make statements about their products indicating that they are environmentally friendly when they really aren’t.

A study of claims on labels found that 98 per cent of 1,000 items reviewed had greenwashed the information on their labels. Questionable claims involved everything from their Energy Star rating to fake, official-looking logos to make consumers think they have gone through a legitimate certification process.

So along comes, a Montreal company, to the rescue. They spend their days checking out the environmental and socially responsible backgrounds of companies. Companies are monitored, so changes in how they operate could cost them their certification.

They look at whether the products are made with organic ingredients, and if they are made locally or nationally. Is it a non-profit or co-op? Are the working conditions above average for the employees? Companies pay an evaluation fee to appear on their site, so other companies might be okay, but they haven’t ponied up the cash.

A summer “green” concept, Green BBQ, is to cook more fish, because it can be a lower-impact alternative to meat.

Beth Hunter, Greenpeace’s former oceans coordinator, suggests the following species for the summertime BBQ: mackerel: king and Spanish (cavalla, king, kingfish, smoker, slab, hog), farmed (land-based) trout, Pacific sardines, sprats, brisling, herring, pilchard, barramundi and Arctic char.

Some green stores to shop at:

Co-op La Maison Verte provides environmentally safe alternative products. The shop itself is a hub of community involvement. They have fair trade coffee, tea, granola, diapers, cleaning supplies, coffee filters, toothpaste, shaving lotion and paper. Workshops are offered in subjects like composting. Hang out and have a snack or a sweet. You don’t have to be a member. 5785 Sherbrooke W. 514-489-8000,

Since 1993, Lemieux has been building up their line of ecological household products. Bring in reusable containers to buy laundry detergent, then scoop up some all-purpose germicide, oven cleaner, glass cleaner, dish detergent or powder or any number of other products. 5985 Taschereau, Brossard, 450-676-6066; 4777 Papineau, 514-528-7770.

Terre a Soi runs as a co-op offering green, fair trade and local solutions for home and personal needs (shampoos, skin care). In names like Biovert, Altitude, Bionature and Druide, you can buy (in bulk or bottled) all-purpose cleaner or cleaners for laundry, dishes, etc. 4696 Ste. Catherine E. 514-759-8772,



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