Anyone that watches TV or reads magazine or listens to the radio or otherwise participates in the day-to-day interactions with society know that “green” marketing is a hot item right now. Normally, I suffer silently through the endless barrage of “green” this and “eco-friendly” that, content with the knowledge that this too, shall pass.
When you get right down to it, “green” is nothing but a buzzword intended to create favorable impressions of items that have traditionally been viewed in a negative light from an environmental perspective. Take for example my wife’s bottled water from lunch the other day:
Don’t feel bad about drinking tap water from that plastic bottle! It’s Eco-friendly and Eco-slim!
Ugggh. The thing that particularly irks me about this bottle is that it it uses 30% less plastic in the cap, but it still is a volume-killing ornamental bottle with further volume-killing embellishments for better grip. (Seriously, has anyone ever felt in danger of dropping their water bottle, only to be saved by the ridges? If so, please let me know.) Look, if you’re going to claim to be eco-friendly, let’s show some commitment! Come up with a bottle that approximates a sphere (i.e. the most efficient shaped vessel) or at least a cylinder with a height equal to the diameter. At the very least, get rid of those damn ridges!
Greenwashing, as it has been called, is the phenomen wherein advertisers and promoters “mislead consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.” And this practice poses mutliple risks for companies that engage in it which could include public intolerance or (drumroll please) lawsuits. (See this Forbes article.) For those of you considering “going green” in your marketing and advertising, you’d be well-advised to consider the accuracy of any and all statements made in connection with your environmental performance.
Now the water-bottle above more likely poses the risks of public intolerance rather than a lawsuit. Nothing appears outwardly deceptive about the label and this is unlikely to create the brouhaha caused by Fiji’s “Carbon Negative” water. But at some point, people are just going to get tired of hearing that things are “green” or “eco-friendly” when they plainly are not.