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For consumers, more incentives to go green

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For some, incentives are an easy, affordable means to take action against large problems, such as global warming. Others are skeptical. Janna Howley, a marketing manager with FreshFarm Markets in Washington, D.C., skips the green-incentive option, though she describes herself as an avid environmentalist.

“If a business wants to become ‘greener,’ make it part of the core values of the company,” she says, “Don’t pander to me by attempting to convince me that the one tree you planted in my name is going to solve the problem. I’m perfectly capable of writing my own check to those local and national organizations whose track records of changing policy and making positive impacts are well documented.”

An unregulated market
Currently, the Federal Trade Commission does not regulate green incentive programs, although it is reviewing its “Green Guides,” an outline of principles for environmental marketing claims. There are some voluntary standards set for carbon-offset groups; the Green-E Climate Protocol for Renewable Energy, which certifies TerraPass, is considered one of the best.

But new standards and certifications pop up all the time, and it’s hard to track how many of these programs exist, how many customers are participating, and the effectiveness of the programs.

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