Ad Alert

Stop & Shop Restore

Reduce your carbon footprint ... by buying gas?

Consumer demand for greener products and services is on the rise with a majority of U.S. consumers preferring environmentally friendly products. And many companies, eager to capitalize on the demand for such products, are engaging in greenwashing.

Enter Stop & Shop with an ad that claims filling up your car or truck at one of its gas stations is actually good for the environment. Wait – what?

Never mind that cars and trucks account for nearly one-fifth of all U.S. emissions, Stop & Shop says in the poster above sent in by a reader that consumers can reduce their carbon footprint every time they fill up at one of its gas stations.

Stop & Shop’s explanation for how it allegedly “offsets” the environmental impact of its customers’ fuel purchases through its Restore initiative can be found on the program’s website:

Restore calculates the carbon emissions based on the fuel you purchase and proportionately invests in carbon reduction projects to offset those emissions by up to 30%.

By the company’s own admission, at least 70% of the carbon emissions tied to its customers’ fuel purchases will not be offset or canceled out. Yet this material information isn’t disclosed to consumers in the ad.

Further, there’s a lot of debate regarding the alleged benefits of different carbon offset projects, and even proponents of the programs admit they’re not a silver bullet when it comes to tackling climate change.

The bottom line

While Stop & Shop proclaims in an FAQ on the Restore website that “[e]very gallon helps make a positive impact on the environment,” by the company’s own math, it isn’t offsetting as much emissions as is being released into the environment by its customers’ fuel purchases, which isn’t good for the planet.

Under the FTC’s Green Guides, it is deceptive to assert an environmental benefit where no meaningful benefit exists. (The guides are currently under review; read’s comments here.)

In response to a request for comment, a Stop & Shop spokesperson said:

The Stop & Shop Restore program offers shoppers who fuel up at our gas stations a chance to offset emissions by up to 30%, and they can learn more about our program at The program’s impact is attested to by a Big Four accounting firm. As part of its larger sustainability initiatives, Stop & Shop participates in this voluntary program as a bridge to a more sustainable future for our company and our community.

Find more of our coverage on carbon offset projects here.

Our Ad Alerts are not just about false and deceptive marketing issues, but may also be about ads that, although not necessarily deceptive, should be viewed with caution. Ad Alerts can also be about single issues and may not include a comprehensive list of all marketing issues relating to the brand discussed.

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