The ambitions of companies to be more purpose-driven, transparent, and accountable dominate the headlines of corporate press releases today and the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) and its members are drawing attention to the need for companies to live up to their claims. A new report published by the Getting Ready for Baby Coalition, titled “Peeling Back the Green Façade: Calling out ‘Greenwashing’ in the Crib Mattress Market as Lessons on Brand Manipulation of Health and Environmental Claims,” shows that within the crib mattress industry, there still is much room for improvement. Its companion report, The Mattress Still Matters: Protecting Babies and Toddlers from Toxic Chemicals While They Sleep, released in July 2020, reviewed 37 crib mattress companies, 10 of which met the organization’s criteria of greenwashing, defined as “the use of marketing claims to over-state or misrepresent a product or company’s efforts to be environmentally sound.”
These same 10 companies were contacted by Clean and Healthy New York and when collecting the data, it became apparent that some companies were providing vastly overstated, and in some cases false information about their products. This observation prompted follow-up research by Clean and Healthy New York to identify companies using allegedly false claims, and to ask them to correct their claims. As a result, four companies updated their marketing materials, more accurately reflecting the information about their products. Two companies corrected some misleading information about their certifications but did not change all of the language flagged as greenwashing. Two companies made all requested changes and, therefore, are not listed in the report. Two additional companies rejected, for the most part, the findings of the study. And, four companies did not respond at all.
The ASBC Holds Businesses Accountable
The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) advocates for greater transparency and accountability throughout the business world, and through its safer chemical initiatives seeks to eliminate greenwashing claims throughout the mattress industry, among others. “Toxic chemicals that may jeopardize the health of our children are not acceptable, and then the masking of them through lack of disclosure or, greenwashing, only makes things worse,” said David Levine, Co-founder and President, American Sustainable Business Council. “Consumers rely on information from companies when making purchasing decisions. Manipulation of health and environmental claims deceives the public at a time when they most need accurate information.”
ASBC is working to address the growing concerns about business activities which are unaccounted for, or currently escape disclosure as negative externalities, activities which at this point do not affect the P&L or balance sheet of corporations, including undisclosed chemicals. ASBC will continue to call for policy solutions and other interventions which incentivize the method of True-Cost Accounting or sometimes known as Impact Weighted Accounts. Currently, policy incentives and/or requirements must include considerations of current GAAP standards, regulatory intervention, accounting standards, valuation methodologies, ESG investment criteria, related reporting methods, tax regime reform, and an overall increase in transparency and equity in corporate and business governance.
Social and environmental externalities together with poor governance practices most acutely impact BIPOC communities and support systemic racism. Environmental, social, and governance standards (ESG) are a critical tool to use in creating a more just society and economy.
Levine further commented, “Our children deserve better, and many companies have proven that they can produce safer products made with non-toxic chemicals, and when coupled with transparency, they are lighting our path forward to sustainable business practices that work for our health and our economy.”
The American Sustainable Business Council partners with business organizations and companies to advocate for solutions and policies that support an equitable, sustainable, stakeholder economy. ASBC is a multi-issue, business organization advocating on behalf of all sectors, sizes, and geographies of industry. ASBC and its association members collectively represent over 250,000 businesses across our networks. ASBC is coalition-focused in our approach to solving the pervasive and systemic issues of climate and energy, infrastructure, circular economy, and creating an inclusive just stakeholder economy. ASBC is changing the rules by which business is done so it is better for all people and the environment.