Avoid the Greenwash Tagteamabode
Embrace authenticity in your green practices
More and more businesses are claiming to be using green, sustainable, or eco-friendly practices as part of their cause marketing strategy and/or overall corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy. They’re recycling, planning buildings that are energy-efficient, using only all-natural products in their ingredients or food they serve, or using only energy-efficient appliances.
As claims of environmentally sound practices multiply, a problem has arisen. How can anyone be sure that a particular business is actually practicing what they say they are? The problem has become known as “greenwashing” and unfortunately, it’s becoming more commonplace.
Greenwashing is misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of their products or services. In order to avoid being branded a “greenwasher” here are some important marketing principles your business can apply:
• Avoid using broad environmental claims such as “safe for the environment”, “environmentally friendly”, or “environmentally friendly”. Any claims you make must be specific and clear to customers.
• Claims must be relevant to the product. For example, claiming a product contains no chlorofluorocarbons even though chlorofluorocarbons were banned over 20 years ago. Customers need to know the claim is technically accurate.
• Avoid the “Lesser of Two Evils” found in contradictory product combinations such as, “Clean Coal”.
• Avoid claims like “we use only green products” unless you can document that fact.
• Avoid terms like “only,” “always,” “all”, and “never,” unless you can back it up with no exceptions.
Remember, it doesn’t matter if the problem was intentional or inadvertent. You need to get it right from the beginning and maintain consistency. As customers become more knowledgeable about green, being branded a “greenwasher” will affect your credibility and could potentially lead to legal action. So it’s important to embrace transparency and authenticity in your actions whatever your claims may be.