1. Meeting increasingly stringent standards can be an exacting process.
2. Projecting a legitimate image as a green company can be equally, if not more, trying.
Green marketing is not just about providing sustainable products and services, it's about improving the standards for green marketing technologies. To that end, companies need to work with industry leaders and environmental consulting firms to evaluate the sustainability of their products. Those findings will determine what adjustments and tweaks need to be made.
However, the process doesn't end there. To say that a product is 100% recycled is an easier claim, because either it is or it isn't. To say that a product is 100% recyclable is more complicated, because that claim does not solely rest on the product itself, but also on the community where the product is being recycled.
Consider neighborhood recycling: The process by which certain communities recycle their waste can vary greatly. Some communities do very little recycling while others will differentiate between different types of plastics, so much so, that they will require their residents to take the caps off certain bottles and deposit them in separate recycling bins. In other words, the recyclability of a product is also contingent on the capabilities of a particular community.
The onus is still on eco-friendly companies to design and re-design their products for continuous recovery and reuse. It is imperative to work directly with these communities, forging partnerships and tailoring programs in order to ensure and enhance eco-efficiency.
Even after all that work, however, consumers might still call into question your authenticity. Green marketing is tricky. "Environment," "green" and "eco-friendly" are all buzz words right now, and marketers are acutely aware of this.
More and more companies are putting their dollars towards appearing green and environmentally conscious. Research has shown that this is due to the fact that affluent consumers are receptive to green initiatives; naturally, this is a consumer segment that companies want to tap into. As a result, green-washing has become all too commonplace. Marketers will say and do whatever they can to appear green, whether it's an accurate claim or not.
Unfortunately, this pseudo-green appearance has created skepticism among savvy, green consumers. It seems that these consumers will no longer accept "green" and "eco-friendly" at face value. Whether a company is green-washing or not isn't always readily apparent to even the smartest of consumers. The result is that real green companies and those that are green-washing are often painted with the same brush.
So, after all the work, research and modifications you make to your products and services, it is still possible that you will be questioned. Why become a green marketer then?
The easy answer is that it's simply the right thing to do. Working towards sustainability is not just a business initiative, it is a moral imperative. The second part of that answer is that American consumers have become more environmentally aware. The corollary of that trend is that more brands are looking for truly sustainable communications platforms in order to reach these consumers.
People have become more environmentally responsible. Companies are simply tapping into that groundswell. But to be seen as really green, companies have to put in the work, both in terms of commitment to sustainability and self-promotion.