As noted in last week’s blog, the FSC stylized “tick tree” mark is going to be recognized by many consumers. But with so many companies being CoCed but with so little actual available FSC volume, one widespread industry concern is the misuse of the FSC logo. A common example is having it appear as boilerplate on every page of a website because a company IS legitimately FSC-CoC-certified…which means it then appears on a product page for a product which is NOT FSC-certified. (I wrote about this a number of years ago as a common form of greenwashing.)

Another common situation is having the FSC logo appear without the company’s specific number associated with it. Or to put it on a business card—that’s also a no-no.

Of course, my personal favorite is when you see an FSC logo on a product flyer with no wood in it, like a vinyl product. While sometimes this because the paper is FSC paper, that excuse doesn’t fly when it’s a pdf download. It is more often because a company will have boilerplate artwork on all their product descriptions/literature/webpages and it will just carry across every line… (Of course I’ve also seen CARB statements on vinyl products.) And by the way, this is most frequently spotted on literature by the big companies that are trying to standardize language and forget that just because it looks like wood doesn’t mean it is wood.

If you spot an FSC logo that you think is being misused, you can report it very easily. Protecting the value of the logo will help the brand and hopefully eventually lead to more demand and more certified forests in the future.

And by the way, this is true for any other logo misuse you spot—don’t just let it go. Many times it is surely accidental but no matter how or why it happened, it leads to both market confusion and a devaluing of the logo. Reach out to the owners of the logo and let them know!

Elizabeth Baldwin has over 20 years of international wood sourcing experience. Very widely traveled, her résumé's "Special Skills" section includes "the ability to eat anything from raw horse to deep-fried scorpion." She serves as Metropolitan Hardwood Flooring's (metrofloors.com) ECO (Environmental Compliance Officer) and deals daily with the "green alphabet soup" of today's industry: FSC, CARB, LEED, and much more. She blogs for Hardwood Floors on all things green (and, as she says, " 'grey' and 'blue' and almost every color except 'black and white.' Nothing in this world is black and white, particularly not 'green issues.'")