Claims that a product helps the environment are enticing to consumers. In fact, the 2012 Green Home Furnishings Consumer Study found that people may be buying less but they are buying eco-friendly. Now the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a 314-page update to its Green Guides, which are intended to help eliminate confusion among consumers about “green” marketing claims by requiring marketers and advertisers to use clearer, more detailed language.
The Guides also help marketers avoid making sweeping claims without proof or qualification. With the furniture and bedding industry using an increasing amount of “green” materials – from recycled wood to soy-based polyols – it is essential that you understand how the finished products in your store’s inventory may now be marketed and advertised.
What are Green Guides?
First issued in 1992, the new Green Guides clarify and modify guidance on environmental claims, some of which have become increasingly more common since the last revisions such as carbon offsets, non-toxic claims, and claims that products are made from recyclable or renewable materials. While not enforceable by law, the FTC can take action under the FTC Act if a marketer makes an environmental claim inconsistent with these Green Guides.
Helping you to avoid over-stating the truth
In issuing these Green Guides, the FTC wants to help marketers avoid making sweeping, over-the-top claims that can’t be substantiated. For example, simply stating that a product is “eco-friendly” may be leaving too much up to consumers’ interpretation. The Guides further state that, “Marketers should not state or imply environmental benefits if the benefits are negligible” and clarify what information may be needed to substantiate a claim.
Say, for instance, that a manufacturer increases the recycled content of his product from two to three percent. He then states on his label: “contains 50% more recycled content than before”. While the claim is technically true, it likely gives the false impression that the manufacturer has significantly increased the use of recycled materials.
Some of the Green Guides that may apply to the furniture and bedding industries
• Recycled content: Do you carry reclaimed or recycled wood furniture? For products that contain used, reconditioned or re-manufactured components, the Green Guides state that, “Marketers should make recycled content claims only for materials that have been recovered or diverted from the waste stream during the manufacturing process or after consumer use.” If a product is only partially constructed of recycled content, “Marketers should qualify claims for products made partly from recycled material. For example, “Made from 30% recycled material”. The Green Guides further advise that, “Marketers whose products contain used, reconditioned or re-manufactured components should qualify their recycled content clearly and prominently to avoid deception about its components.”
• Recyclable content: Mattresses are recyclable, right? The recycling language used may depend on your location. A product should not be marketed as “recyclable” unless “it can be collected, separated or otherwise recovered from the waste stream through an established recycling program for reuse, or use in manufacturing or assembling another item.” When recycling facilities are available to at least 60 percent of consumers or communities where the item is sold, marketers can make unqualified recyclable claims. Otherwise, a marketer can state, “This product may not be recyclable in your area.” If recycling facilities for a product are available to only a few consumers, the FDA says a marketer should use stronger qualifying language: “This product is recyclable only in the few communities that have appropriate recycling programs.”
• Made with renewable materials: In its review process, the FTC discovered that consumers often misinterpreted this claim to mean that the product was recyclable, made with recycled content or biodegradable. To minimize the confusion, the Green Guides recommend that marketers “identify the material used clearly and prominently, and explain why it is renewable. For example, “Our flooring is made from 100% bamboo, which grows at the same rate, or faster, than we use it.” By identifying the material used and explaining why it is renewable, the marketer has minimized the risk of unintended claims. New BiOH technology allows our customers to create products with typical levels of renewable content at greater than 50 percent.
• Carbon offsets: It wasn’t all that long ago that the concept of a carbon footprint was foreign to most people. Now most everyone has a general idea of what it means. In its Green Guides, the FDA cautions that marketers should, “have competent and reliable scientific evidence to support carbon offset claims. They should use appropriate accounting methods to ensure they measure emission reductions properly and don’t sell them more than once.”
Preliminary life cycle analysis indicated that manufacturing BiOH polyols requires 60 percent less non-renewable energy and results in less global warming emissions than manufacturing the petroleum polyols we replace. Additionally, for every one million pounds of BiOH polyols used, more than 2200 barrels of crude oil are saved. Considering that the industry uses billions of pounds of petroleum polyols, BiOH polyols can have an impact on using less petroleum.
April 22 will be the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day, a day credited with starting the modern environmental movement. Four decades later, consumers’ interest in products that are kind to Mother Nature has never been stronger. Not only are people more likely to buy eco-friendly goods, many are more inclined to spend their money with businesses that also support this way of life.
Here are five great ways for furniture retailers to take part in Earth Day 2012:
1. Draw attention to your earth-friendly inventory.
• Create Earth Day signs or tags to place on goods made from recycled, reclaimed, organic or sustainable materials, as well as any sourced from local suppliers.
• Ask each employee to pick his/her top three favorites from among the “green” items and sign their name to those tags. This gives those items a personalized staff endorsement.
• Offer your employees an extra incentive for selling those items which they have endorsed.
2. Reward customers for purchasing earth-friendly items.
• The value of the rewards can be scalable depending on the amount of the purchase. Some ideas include:
• Organize a team of employees to help clean a beach or neighborhood, or to plant trees. Wear tee shirts with your business name so that others will notice your involvement.
• Print fliers inviting your customers to join you at the event.
4. Plant a sapling or garden in honor of the employee who sells the most “green” products this month.
• Have a placard made with the employee’s name and the year, to remind employees and customers year round about your commitment to the cause.
5. Partner with a recycling group by serving as a collection site for items such as used cell phones or clothing.
• You will expand your marketing exposure because your business will be advertised by the recycling group as a drop-off point.
Earth Day is a great way to remind your community of your commitment to the environment, and to the health of your neighbors. However you decide to commemorate the day, we hope you also have fun doing it!
The SSA is a non-profit advocacy and education association advocating and promoting the full spectrum of new technology bedding using both synthetic and green or sustainable solutions. Cargill Inc, producer of BiOH® polyols, is a full founding member of the SSA’s Environmental & Safety Program/Green Initiative Board of Governors.
Building the foundation for new industry standards
The SSA’s labeling program may one day result in more uniform labeling standards for green manufacturers, and more consistent, industry-wide definitions for what constitutes natural, green and sustainable.
The three-step seals and consumer discloser label tags appear on mattresses from manufacturers who join the program. They help consumers to understand the environmental and safety attributes of participating manufacturers’ products. Specifically, they make it easier for consumers to see at a glance:
• The minimum environmental and safety compliance levels that apply to that particular product.
• The material content by percentage for components in the mattress. Manufacturers certify what natural materials have been used and list those materials by weight. If the manufacturer claims any part of the mattress is organic, it has to substantiate that claim. Periodic product testing authorized by the SSA will help ensure compliance.
So far, products and manufacturers that have earned the SSA’s Environmental & Safety Program Seal of Approval are: Boyd Specialty Sleep, Natura World, Naturepedic and Spring Air International.
Manufacturers pay a fee to the SSA to use the label and seal. There are three different levels of seals that may be used.
To display the Level I seal, a manufacturer must:
• Disclose materials used in construction and percentages of natural/bio-based and/or pre-consumer recycled content if applicable
• Achieve a minimum of 20 percent of natural/biobased or pre-consumer recycled content in component categories of fabric and quilt
• Participate in an annual survey to identify carbon footprint issues and commit to continuous improvement
• Meet all federal safety flammability requirements
• Meet all safety requirements for children’s products if applicable
• Provide a warranty for the product
For the Level II seal, a manufacturer must meet all the requirements of the first threshold and in addition, the products must:
• Disclose materials used in construction and achieve a minimum of 20 percent natural/biobased, pre-consumer recycled content material, and/or steel in component categories of fabric and quilt and 10 percent for core
• Certify the top fabric (closest to consumer during sleep) through either Oeko-Tex Standard 100 or Global Organic Textile Standard
• Flexible polyurethane foam products must achieve CertiPUR-US certification
• Latex foam products must achieve Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification.
The Level III seal is the highest that can be achieved. To meet the Level III requirements, a manufacturer must comply with the previous two levels’ requirements and:
• Disclose materials used in construction and achieve a minimum of 70 percent of natural/biobased and/or pre-consumer recycled content material in component categories of fabric and quilt
• Disclose materials used in construction and achieve a minimum of 50 percent natural/biobased, pre-consumer recycled and/or steel for core
• Certify the final mattress through Oeko-Tex Standard 100 or Global Organic Textile Standard
• Test the mattress for VOCs emissions
The SSA is currently considering proposals for a Level IV of the program. In addition, the SSA has developed an Environmental Glossary Marketing Guide, available on its website, explaining many definitions and regulations governing the “green” industry.
Posted by Nicole, BiOH Polyols Marketing Manager on August 12, 2011
Sometimes, we need to treat ourselves to a break, especially during summer. After all the hard work you put in at your job, a vacation is definitely well-deserved. So get out your suitcases, sundresses, board shorts, flight tickets, and let’s go! But hold on. Have you given thoughtabout how eco-friendly your vacation spot is for you or your family? Oftentimes we are so focused on the idea of fun and adventure that we forget the potential ecological consequences these grandiose trips can cause. This summer, keep fun and the environment in mind!
Here are some general tips for an eco-friendly vacation:
Pick Driving over Flying: No one wants to drive to their dream destination when a simple one-way plane ticket can be bought. But you’d be surprised on how much driving lessens the ozone damage and carbon footprint we make on our environment. Air travel itself causes 3% of total U.S. carbon emissions! That number is only expected to rise over time as population grows.
Choose an Eco-Friendly Hotel: Many hotels and other resort accommodations have started renovations based on new environmental standards and needs. Some use ‘Energy Star’ or solar power to reduce energy consumption while many others have started recycling programs.
Pick a Single Destination: Not only will this allow you to save money on gas, hotel expenses, and other expenditures, exploring just one destination will allow you to truly explore the depth of the location through learning its culture and mingling with its locals.
Travel Light: This one is pretty self-explanatory. Bring only what you need to bring; instead of buying everything in new plastic travel-size containers, reuse old ones. Also, bring a reusable water bottle! J
Walk or Bike to and from Attractions: Again, doing this will not only save you from spending ridiculous amounts of money on transportation fees, but will also really give you the chance to see the place from a scenic perspective.
If you are really stuck on where to go, here are some wonderful eco-friendly places to explore!
Napa Valley (California): If you want great variety in your travel, this is where it’s at. Napa Valley has seven ‘Regions of the Valley’, with each region containing its own local attractions. The American Canyon, one of the regions, has lots of eco-friendly accommodations, including World’s First Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Certified Hotel called Gaia Napa Valley Hotel & Spa. Its restaurant is very environmentally conscious in its food preparation, using only locally produced food. The hotel itself is made of sustainable designs, including carpets made from recycled materials.
Crystal Mountain and Resort Spa (Michigan): The Midwest has a lot to offer in scenery and chances for a healthy relaxation. The Crystal Spa is the only LEED certified spa in the Midwest and offers many organic products. In addition, there are outdoor programs near the resort, such as the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, where you can explore the sand dunes that rise 460 feet above Lake Michigan.
Amelia Island Plantation Resort (South Florida): Want some fun in the sun? The resort overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and has been active in its eco-friendly practices since 1971 when it first opened. You can either golf away on a golf course that uses reclaimed water for irrigation, or take a trip down to the nature center to learn about the creatures that dwell around the resort. Amelia’s Wheels is another activity where you can rent bikes or golf carts to the trails.
Highland Lodge (New Hampshire): If you love hiking through the mountains, this is the perfect spot for you. Located in the east, the lodge offers a great deal of hiking trails as well as educational programs where guests can learn the history and making of the trails. It is a part of the Highland Center, where a great deal is made out of recycled steel with natural vegetation in front. Both parents and kids can take “Green Tours” and learn about ecology, rock climbing, how to track animals, etc.
Now you can grab your suitcases and everything else you need for an eco-friendly vacay with family or friends! There are plenty of choices out there to explore, ones that not only offer adventure, but a chance to learn and appreciate the environment that we live in. With that being said, I’m now going to pack my own bags for my own eco summer excursion!
Posted by Nicole, BiOH Polyols Marketing Manager on January 24, 2011
This week the BiOH® polyols team heads out to the real city that never sleeps to uncover the latest and greatest trends in the furniture and bedding marketplace at the annual Las Vegas Market . World Market Center is the place to see “everything that’s new and unexpected in the world of home furnishings, all in one inspiring venue.”
If you want to be ahead of the curve and know new industry trends before everyone else, just like I do, this market is the place to be. Another great place to trend-spot is by flipping through the pages of Bedroom Magazine, the “Sleep Retailers Magazine.” Pick up a copy of the Winter 2011 issue or visit their website to read a new and exciting article titled Cargill provides Insights on Marketing “Green” featuring Cargill’s BiOH® Business Unit Leader, Yusuf Wazirzada.
Before heading out to Las Vegas, make sure to cast your vote online for the One Good Chair People’s Choice competition sponsored by the Sustainable Furnishings Council and World Market Center Las Vegas. This competition is similar to BiOH® polyols Project Udesign because the designs use sustainable materials but are not upholstered furniture like BiOH® soy-based foam ingredients.
Fingers crossed for a successful market visit that we learn a lot from the bedding industry leaders and maybe we’ll even get a little bit of sleep along the way!
The Sage Award is an opportunity to recognize excellence in the home furnishings and bedding industries through honoring and acknowledging companies who lead in area of:
Reducing their environmental footprint
Expanding their positive social impact
Running a profitable business
This is the third year BiOH® polyols has partnered with the AHFA to present the Sage Award winner with a $2,500 donation to any non-profit organization of its choice. The purpose of the Sage Award is to seek out, discover and recognize true industry innovators from whom others can learn. This award is founded on the belief that environmental excellence is an ongoing journey requiring flexibility, insight and constant learning. The annual Award honors businesses that demonstrate a passion for and a sustained commitment to that journey.
Zenda Leather embodies these environmental requirements and many more by having internationally-recognized ISO 14001 environmental management certifications for its factories. This certification controls use of natural resources, handling and treatment of waste, and energy consumption. Over the last five years they also have:
Developed practices to reduce over 3 million kilograms of solid waste per year by producing compost.
Opened the first private energy plant in Uruguay that transforms waste into energy, eliminating the company’s need to buy power from an outside source
Built a waste treatment plant in which the biological sludge is used as organic fertilizer for local farmland and also saves an estimated 2 million liters of water per day by recycling rainwater.
Invested in developing more eco-friendly products and introduced “Eden” leather to the residential market in 2008. Only natural extracts – no metals – are used in the tanning process for Eden leather. They have over 10 years of experience making chrome-free leather for the automotive industry.
Edith Ledzema and Juan Diego Casaretto of Zenda Leather
Finalists Flexsteel Industries, Inc. was the first AHFA member company to implement the program EFEC – “Enhancing Furniture’s Environmental Culture” – a voluntary environmental management program for furniture manufacturers in all seven plants. As a result of the new practices and policies established during implementation of EFEC, they:
Reduced its waste to landfill from 554 tons per quarter in March of 2009 to 114 tons per quarter as of June 2010.
Energy consumption has declined every quarter since March 2009.
Water consumption and natural gas have also been reduced and the company has increased its use of recycled materials in operations and product development.
Pushed sustainable practices through the supply chain by requiring vendors to establish environmental goals – an effort now completed by 86 percent of its suppliers.
Finalist TLS by Design, which stands for Total Life Style, is an innovative, family-run business striving to follow an environmentally-responsible path. They are seriously committed to the environmental journey and on their way to be LEED® certified. In addition to energy efficient practices they also:
Use soy-based BiOH® polyols for foam cushioning, locally purchase recycled steel springs and all wood finishes are water-based.
70 percent of the company’s products are produced and sourced within a 75-mile radius of its base in Portland, Indiana including using local forests and mills for wood.
Repurposed their facility section by section, including buying old bowling alley lanes for a “new” 60-foot long cutting table and hired locally displaced employees.
Finalists TLS by Design’s Jeff Day and guest
The competition for this year’s award was challenging. Thankfully we had a handful of incredibly talented judges. Ten environmental, media and industry leaders accepted the responsibility of reading and judging the entries. They included:
Ray Allegrezza,Editor in Chief of Furniture Today.
Mary Frye, Executive Director of the Home Furnishings Independents Association
Heather Gadonniex, managing partner of MindClick, a San Francisco-based consultancy specializing in sustainable business
Leslie Guevarra, associate editor for Greener World Media, the online publishing group founded by Joel Makower
Susan Inglis,Executive Director of the Sustainable Furniture Council,
Robyn Griggs Lawrence, Editor in Chief of Natural Home Magazine
Jean Nayer, former editor-in-chief of Woman’s Day Special Interest Magazines and author of “Green Living by Design”
Richard Prisco, professor of industrial design, department of technology, Appalachian State University
Ryan Trainer, President of the International Sleep Products Association
Steve Walker, Assistant Directorof the Furniture Manufacturing and Management Center at North Carolina State University
Criteria for judging is based on three key points; Sustainable Business Practices, Commitment to Social Responsibility and Profitable Growth. We commend all entrants for their dedication to these efforts. For more information about the Sage Awards please visit: www.sageaward.org.
Posted by Nicole, BiOH Polyols Marketing Manager on November 23, 2010
In order to be a responsible corporation, a company must aim to be responsible across many ways that they manage and operate their business. We are excited to announce that on October 15, 2010, BiOH® Polyols corporate office team moved into a Gold LEED certified workspace. Cargill Incorporated through its Facility Department decided to use the LEED certification as a way to demonstrate broad commitment to sustainable office space design. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a ratings system guided by the U.S. Green Building Council.
At 766,300 square feet, Excelsior Crossings is one of the largest LEED application office-buildings in the Minneapolis metropolitan area. Excelsior Crossings located in the suburb of Hopkins, MN is the realization of decades of commitment to environmental stewardship.
Excelsior Crossings Campus in Hopkins, Minnesota
The list to gain LEED certification through the USGBC is quite lengthy and can be achieved in a variety of ways. There are three Excelsior Crossings office buildings in which the first was awarded LEED Gold certification in 2008, the second in 2010 and the third is in the process for early 2011. Keep reading to learn more about the sustainable strategies Cargill is implementing in the planning, design and operation of the Excelsior Crossings campus.
USGBC LEED Gold Plaques
How we got to GOLD:
18 environmental and design credits implemented at Excelsior Crossings:
• Building orientation
• Alternative transportation (excited to park my bicycle up front when I unthaw from winter!)
• Storm water maintenance (come take a swim in our beautiful pond, not!)
• Water conservation
• “Smart” irrigation
• Energy performance & operations
• Environmentally friendly refrigerants
• Use & collection of recycled materials (you don’t get $.05 per can but consider it a good deed)
• Local construction materials
• Sustainable harvested certified wood products
• Day lighting and daylight sensors
• Reduce the quantity of indoor air contaminants
• Outside views for occupants (it’s fun to laugh at people stuck in traffic, until it becomes you)
• Thermal comfort for occupants (finally, no winter wardrobe and blanket in summer!)
• Green housekeeping plan
• Chemical-free water treatment
• Greenhouse gas neutral furniture and seating
(the use of BiOH® in sustainable lobby seating really helped gain GOLD)
• Environmental education and display.
Excelsior Crossings Campus LEED Display
We are very excited to share our new campus and ways that we are paving the journey to a better environment. Feel free to stop by and see this beauty all for yourself. Also, leave comments on how you or your company is doing great things to be more environmentally friendly. It’s very inspiring!
Posted by Nicole, BiOH Polyols Marketing Manager on August 13, 2010
I am soy excited to share with you that Target Home® brand memory foam pillows with BiOH® polyols will be available for purchase at over 50 selected Target® retail locations nationwide while supplies last. Whether you are a parent, student, mother or significant other, you can rest easy knowing that you have the choice of a more renewable pillow.
We have hit the bull’s-eye with this incredible opportunity to bring BiOH® polyols into bedrooms all across America. Stock up on soy and look for the logo when you’re browsing the bedding aisles of this trendy retailer (that is if you can make it past the $1 bins, which I frequent). If you can’t find what you’re looking for, I’m sure a friendly team member in red will be more than happy to help you. Hurry in today because each selected store has a limited quantity and this offer is while supplies last!
Here are the details:
Look for the BiOH® polyols label
Memory Foam Supreme Contour Pillowby Target Home™
Open cell memory foam maintains comfortable sleeping temperatures, contour design conforms to support your head and neck and has a soft velour removable cover.
SKU DPCI 62/5/56
Memory FoamDeluxe Bed Pillow by Target Home™
Temperature- sensitive memory foam is ventilated for cooler sleeping, molded design is perfect for all sleeping positions and has a removable cover for easy wash and care.
SKU DPCI 62/5/57
Here’s where you can find pillows made with BiOH® polyols in the aisle
To find a Target store that carries pillows made with BiOH® polyols near you check out our handy Store Locator.
Everyone has the ability to make a difference by purchasing products that leave a smaller environmental footprint. By buying these products at Target you can feel good about your choice to rest renewable. Hurry in today! This exclusive opportunity is while supplies last!
Slow Home means being mindful and knowledgeable about the furniture you purchase for your home and the impact on the environment of the materials that are used to make it. It means buying the best furniture you can afford so that it will last and not end up in a landfill. It means slowing down to appreciate and remember the memories that accrue to each well-loved piece you own.
Thank you, Gloria, for using furniture made by TLSbyDesign, an Indiana based manufacturer, who uses foam made with BiOH’s soy ingredient in each piece.
But, especially, thank you for sending us this beautifully produced and unsolicited video of your slow home living room to share with our readers. We wish you and your family many years of happy memories there.
The BiOH experience offers resources for you to learn and participate in helping communities and the environment. It is brought to you by the BiOH polyols business — a maker of soy-based ingredients for foam. Please explore our site and then share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you!
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