NWFA Greenwashing Gives Industry Bad Name

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The National Wood Flooring Association’s green marketing effort is one of the most notorious examples of greenwashing in the building materials industry. The association’s specious and risible arguments, unashamedly made in press releases that should make any self-respecting news editor shudder at the obvious hype, do as much to harm responsible environmental marketing as would flat out lying.

It’s truly a sad state of affairs for the wood flooring industry. There are sound and eminently more persuasive arguments that can be made for the relative environmental benefits of hardwood over other materials. Unfortunately the NWFA thinks it has to resort to exaggeration and misleading half-truths to promote its product.

The most recent news from the Association turns out a whole dimension to the lengths it will go to mislead consumers. The front page story of the September 15, 2008 issue of Floor Covering Weekly (NWFA eyes new ‘certified sustainable’ program) should be read with concern by anyone who is interested in maintaining public confidence in this industry.

It may at first sound like great news to North American hardwood flooring suppliers that the NWFA plans to introduce a certification program for sustainable forest practices. It will be welcomed for its head-on competition with the Forest Stewardship Council’s certification in the industry. The appeal of the NWFA’s program is that it will benefit North American products over FSC-certified ones because the latter are, for the most part, currently sourced off shore.

A little background to the FCW story will help in understanding why the NWFA’s latest effort will eventually blow up in its face.

Please tune in to my next post to learn why.

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Colin Laughlan