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Social Issues
Many Environmentally Friendly Products Might Not Be As Friendly As You Think
September 14, 2012
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If you look around your house, chances are you have a number of products that are labeled as "green" or "environmentally friendly."

And let's face it, with climate change and pollution, it's smart for companies to go "green." A lot of people are looking to buy environmentally friendly products. The more popular they become, the more companies want to get a piece of the pie.

environmentally-friendly-products-might-not-be-as-friendly-as-you-think-thumb.jpg Going "green" is big business. But are the products as safe and healthy as we're led to believe? Well tonight, in its season premiere, CBC's Marketplace puts 10 popular "green" home products to the test. And what they found might surprise you.

For example, this summer, T-Fal came out with a new line of "Natura" products. The label says "No PFOA." That's a synthetic chemical that's used to make slippery coatings on non-stick cookware.

There are huge concerns about PFOA. Several companies have stopped using it, because it's so toxic and is believed to cause cancer.

So, what about T-Fal? You might think it's removed the PFOA from its new pan. But the thing is, there's actually never been PFOA in the coating. It's only been used at the plant where the pans are made. And the company tells Marketplace, it still is. So really, nothing has changed.

Another example - J-Cloths. They've been around since the 1960s, but now claim to be biodegradable. There's even an official-looking seal on the package that seems to back it up. The problem is, the company doesn't tell you how or where it biodegrades.

Most municipalities say not to put them in the green bin, where they'll just get skimmed out. And if you throw them in the garbage, chances are they won't biodegrade any time soon. Modern landfills are designed to keep out light, moisture and air so if stuff breaks down, it happens really slowly. And as for that seal? Marketplace found the company made it up.

Here's a clip from tonight's show.

Of course, all kinds of products claim to be "non-toxic" or "biodegradable" or contain "natural ingredients" - everything from cleaning products to bedding to kitchenware. But Marketplace has found that major companies are violating government policy and nobody is really stopping it.

You can watch the show tonight on CBC at 8pm. And by the way, environmental journalist and author Adria Vasilhelped Marketplace with their investigation. Adria has written several books including Ecoholic and Ecoholic Home, which talked about how to green up your life and your home.

This year, she put out another book Ecoholic Body, in which she outlines her "Mean 15" - 15 chemicals to avoid when it comes to bath, beauty and personal hygiene products. You can read more about that here.

Adria was also on our show this past season to talk about Earth Hour.

And for George, talking about the environment is a big part of the show. Here's a few clips from the conversations he's had.

Ed Begley Jr. on going green and riding his bicycle to an Oscars party.

The late Ray Anderson, who was named 'America's Greenest CEO.' He believed any business could make money and protect the environment. We need more CEO's like this.

And David Suzuki, who surprisingly said the environmental movement has largely failed.

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