"Green" is in, and many new products being marketed as Earth-friendly are in reality only marginally less unfriendly. The Boston Globe points to hybrid SUVs that get barely better mileage than their standard brethren, water bottles that use less plastic but still require large amounts of energy to make and deliver, and "non-toxic" cleaners that have merely reduced amounts of the same toxins. "It's a marketing exercise rather than reality," says a consumer expert.
"How a 6,000-pound behemoth can be the green car of the year is beyond me," he says of the Chevy Tahoe hybrid. The marketing of dubiously eco-friendly products is known as "greenwashing," and it's on the rise. "You could have the green McMansion with energy efficiency, but, well, the house is still 6,000 square feet," says a BU professor. Consumers, meanwhile, are expected to double spending on green products next year to $500 billion. (Read more green products stories.)