How Green Is Your Marketing?
The twenty-first century has brought increased awareness across all marketing channels of the importance of environmentally responsible practices. In a two-part series, we'll take a look at areas where things are not quite what they seem.
Everywhere we turn, we see references to eco-friendly products. There are several characteristics that determine eco-friendliness, including what are sometimes called the three R’s. The first consideration is the material, including whether it’s Recycled, Reusable or from a Renewable resource. A second concern is the product’s ability to be reused to reduce waste. Last, consider how the supplier reduces its impact on the environment. Does the supplier take steps in reducing energy usage to minimize the carbon footprint from the complete manufacturing process? Corporate responsibility is getting more than just lip service. It's not unusual to find written policies requiring green products in marketing.
In an effort to benefit from this interest, some companies have been known to let their marketing departments stretch the truth, ignoring the three pillars of advertising:
- Advertising must be truthful/not deceptive.
- Advertising claims must be backed by evidence.
- Advertisements cannot be unfair.
When a company misleads consumers regarding their environmental practices, or the environmental benefits of their products, the practice is called greenwashing. The FTC has just issued some stronger regulations in response to this. One of the most commonly overused terms is “biodegradable.” New rules require that this term only be used when the entire product (not just components) will completely and naturally break down into elements found in nature within one year of disposal. This eliminates products that are typically headed for landfills, as those conditions (limited oxygen and moisture) do not allow decomposition in a year. Another area of concern is overuse of “recyclable”. Again, new regulations require this to mean the entire product, not individual components. For example, pens are not recyclable as recycling centers do not routinely separate the plastic barrel from the ink cartridge.
Of course, products can certainly be made from recycled materials (in whole or in part), even if they are not recyclable under the new rules. Sustainability is another factor that can be clearly identified. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing grasses on the planet, and it grows well without pesticides. There are 1400 varieties and it grows on every continent except Europe and Antactica. Bamboo fabrics are breathable and naturally antimicrobial. They make our list for top apparel choices in a green marketing program. Also worthy of attention are such things as coasters made of used tires and piggy banks made of old currency! Why not have a little fun while doing the right thing? Call us and we'll help you get there.
Next month - how green is the internet?