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Here’s a little more proof that you should always scrutinize the “green” hype about a product, Green Monsters.

A PLOS ONE study published this week has asserted that coffee designated as “eco-friendly” (even though it was the same exact “regular” coffee being served to all participants) was found to not only taste better, but participants were willing to pay more for it because of the verbal label.

In a series of three experiments involving taste tests of two different cups of coffee, the study found that the coffee called “eco-friendly” won out in most cases — once again, the coffee was the same exact stuff as what was in the other cup. Another interesting find? The report states that “social desirability” was not a factor, as “participants were just as biased when reporting the taste estimates and willingness to pay anonymously.” In addition, the study found that, even when participants were told they actually preferred the taste of the “not eco-friendly” coffee more, many consumers were still willing to pay more for the “eco-friendly” batch.

Could this study be further evidence showing that green-washing does indeed influence people?

It is one thing to prefer eco-friendly brands — (we’re all behind that decision here at One Green Plant!) – if there is proof that the product is, in actuality, eco-friendly. But this study hints that people may be able to simply be told something is the “greener” option without further investigation – and perhaps even pay a premium for it. With the proliferation of “greener” options and green-hued labels popping up from most every brands these days, the lesson is clear: always look beyond the claim and think about the whole package.

Take, for instance, the new Coca-Cola product that may hit U.S. stores next year – will slapping a green label on its can and reducing its calories make more people take the buying plunge? It’s still toxic soda, people! Steer clear whenever possible.

Green Monsters: Turn those green labels over. Read ingredient lists. Know what all of those ingredients are. If you don’t, research them before buying the product. Look for the proof of “eco” practices. And keep your eyes peeled for green-washing tactics by companies that aren’t really eco-friendly – and let us know about them!

Image Source: Coffee Circle/Flickr

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