These days, it seems everywhere we turn, there's yet another ad or media blitz promoting an eco-friendly effort—whether it's Chevron's commitment to renewable energy, the USA Network's "green" character of the month or a magazine honoring companies who separate cans and bottles from the regular trash. Every other day, there's another fast food or beverage chain "going green."
The green effort has officially become a craze, and ads and marketing for these efforts are as ubiquitous as the iPod was several years ago.
Enter The EnviroMedia Greenwash Index, an interactive forum that holds companies accountable for greenwashing with a five point rating scale. The more the greenwash, the higher the score.
"It’s greenwashing when a company or organization spends more time andmoney claiming to be 'green' through advertising and marketing thanactually implementing business practices that minimize environmentalimpact," the group says. "It’s whitewashing, but with a green brush."
"A hotel chain that calls itself 'green' because it allows guests tochoose to sleep on the same sheets and reuse towels, but actually doesvery little to save water and energy where it counts — on its grounds,with its appliances and lighting, in its kitchens and with its vehiclefleet."
If you're a business who's feeling the pinch to employ environmentally-friendly business practices just because everyone else is doing it, the good news is, you're off the hook. Apparently the craze has spawned a counter craze: watchdogging for greenwash.
Earnest efforts such as you won't be able to sleep at night if you don't recycle or reusing shopping bags because mama always told you to respect the Earth are, of course, justifiable reasons to be eco-friendly, as is complying with industry regulations. And usually, if these are our intentions, we're not seeking public praise for them anyway.
But if you feel eco-friendly practices will earn you more press, get you on the "Hot Green List" of a local magazine or be a great way to hobnob with Al Gore or Leonardo DiCaprio, it might serve you best to rethink your intentions, and therefore your green strategy (if you're thinking of one at all).
If you approach your eco-friendly efforts with integrity and from the heart, your message will be clear, credible and an even stronger way to enhance customer loyalty.
Just some food for thought.