Green Marketing or Washing?

Greentings Everyone! Being green has been on everyone’s radar lately. From individuals like you and me going the extra mile to become more sustainable (bittersweet moments where the most convenient may not be the most environmentally friendly), to businesses with their innovative and ecofriendly practices. This is great news for those of us who want to move towards sustainable coexistence with our planet. Business practices for the most part are backed by credible data to sustain their claims, but where do we draw the line between Green Marketing and Green Washing? Green Washing being the process in which a business conveys a false impression or misleading information on how they are environmentally sound. Ultimately, the difference between the two comes down to one core consideration, ethics. When talking about ethics, we are implicitly also talking about sustainability, as sustainability is the perfect result of putting the environment, the economy and our ethics at the forefront of everything we do. This particular framework of sustainability is referred to as the Three E’s of Sustainability and should be the driving force of any business decision moving forward, sounds like common sense right? Over the course of the next few days, I will be sharing with you some images so we can see examples of Green Marketing and Green Washing in action. Let’s see if you can spot the differences!

Green Marketing, an Oxymoron?

Marketing Green is about making a customer facing statement, promoting a product/service as environmentally friendly; it takes the design, conception, production and packaging into consideration as well as the logistics and disposal in a manner that is sensitive or responsive to ecological concerns. In other words, putting your money where your mouth is and walking the walk. Is consumption and the promotion of consumption not the exact opposite of being Green? This is clearly confusing mainly because our society as a whole has become so accustomed to a type of consumption that does not consider our environment. Consumption, which has prioritized the economy over ethical values, essentially throwing the Three E’s synergy out of whack, a fine mess wouldn’t you say? Over the years, the approach to Green Marketing has been very business-oriented and functionalist as opposed to actually taking the necessary steps to create/alter a product/service into something that is sustainable. Emphasis is placed on portraying the consumption as green whilst continuing with business as usual. We are starting to see a change to this, with the demand by consumers that businesses are held accountable for their actions, bringing with it much needed innovation. Business has finally had to take a step back, analyze and alter their strategy. The likes of car-sharing services, ocean diverted plastic products and e-books have become widespread due to this shift from Top-down (where business dictates green initiatives) towards a Bottoms-up (consumer initiated) approach. Businesses are starting to see that those that react quickly and make concerted attempts to change their business model with a focus on green are reaping the benefits. Grassroots startups are on the loose and many of them come to market with the sole purpose of providing a sustainable alternative. Keep an eye out for these up and coming businesses such as Artic Sands, WISErg, and Holaganix. These examples just go to show that promoting consumption via marketing can definitely be green, that it is not an oxymoron. Supply chains can be altered to provide sustainable solutions, positioning can be done in a more environmentally friendly way, logistics via carbon offset shipping can play a role in reducing your businesses carbon footprint and if we are talking about an open circuit which still requires disposal, this can also be setup to provide minimal damage to the environment. Making it into the Forbes list of most sustainable companies and then showboating this accolade is no longer sufficient, more is required.

We must not stop here, for every business that is revolutionizing their supply chain; there are 10 opting for the path of least resistance, completely disregarding the environment in the process. What we as consumers must make clear to business going down this path is that they may succeed in the short-term, but this success will not last in the long term. It should be made clear that consumers will not stand idly by and watch the planet go down this slippery slope of no return.

Now that we are approaching the end of this post, a challenge is in store for you. I have planted oxymorons throughout the post and I would like you to find as many oxymorons in this post as possible. One lucky reader will get the chance to win a free customized t-shirt made out of diverted ocean plastic, a great prize! Drop us the answer in the Contact Us page. Remember, Green Marketing no longer counts as an oxymoron as we have discussed in this post. Marketing can be green; in fact, we highly recommend that it be! While you are at it, please also give me your unbiased opinion on this post. It is greatly appreciated and I am cheerfully pessimistic about receiving your comments! Generation Clean!

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