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Image by Joshua Rawson-Harris

Your Consumer Rights

As a consumer, you have a number of rights regarding products or services that you buy or use.  Among these is the right to expect that what the product or service claims can be delivered, but most consumers tend to overlook this.

Product manufacturers and service providers spend a small fortune every day enticing consumers to buy their goods.  Unfortunately, while there are ethical and responsible companies out 'there', there are also many that make unsubstantiated environmental, sustainability or 'green' claims in an effort to get to your purse.

There has been a marked increase in the number of products carrying terminology that infers compliance with internationally recognised standards or environmental performance. Often, they use terms such as 'Earth Friendly', 'Biodegradable', 'Eco-Friendly' 'sustainable' and more.  With the number of 'impacts' these adverts make on you each day, you may ask 'how will I know?'

Advertisers are required by the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASASA) to adhere to a Code of Conduct which amongst other issues, requires fair and accurate advertising or promotion of products. This includes the use of terminology that could be misinterpreted or which is clearly misleading or untrue. Notwithstanding this, many continue to circumvent the regulations because consumers don't complain!

As a consumer, it is your right to question the claims being made. Enquire from your supplier whether the products have been ecolabelled or certified against their claims, and if not, either select a more appropriate alternative or raise the matter with the manufacturer.  And if that fails, there are a number of organisations, agencies and consumer advocacy groups that can help (see 'Consumer Rights Watch').  It is only through concerted consumer pressure that manufacturers and service providers either start playing the game or change their advertising and promotional approach.

You have a right to be protected from the harmful effects of products and services that you use.  You have the right to challenge unfair or unrealistic claims being made by manufacturers - claims that could affect your safety or health and unless you stand-up to these, you have given up these rights!

Would you buy a product that your common sense tells you will harm you or your family? Of course not, so become eco-aware and don't simply trust the label or advertising jargon that is designed to confuse or mislead.  

After all, don't we owe it to future generations to take steps to protect our environment today? 

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