So You Want To Be Green, Do You?

Green marketing can be challenging for a couple of reasons:

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.

4 comments about "So You Want To Be Green, Do You? ".
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  1. Brooke Farrell, October 7, 2009 at 1:37 p.m.

    Jeff - good post. Right now, we are all struggling to know how to be environmentally responsible in any industry.

    Whether green marketing or just marketing, we have a responsibility to not bend the product attributes so far that it is a fib or falsehood. That's not exclusive to green claims! It's particularly sensitive right now with green claims because there is so much innovation in the environmental area right now that it's hard to know what is real and what is a flash in the pan.

    Re: "recyclable" - I've always believed that technically everything is recyclable. After all, us humans haven't actually created any new matter in this world - only transformed it from one state to another. Likewise, I hate the term "naturally derived". The root of Petroleum products came from nature too.

  2. Roger Dubin from Idea Plus Marketing, October 7, 2009 at 3:16 p.m.

    Very honest and insightful. There are far too many companies that want to appear or market themselves as green but there is little below the surface.

    Jeff has a passion for this that is evidenced not just by what he says, but by what he does.

    Great article

  3. Rodney Brooks from ToTouch One, Inc, October 7, 2009 at 3:18 p.m.

    I feel that commitment is the key to being responsible. If companies are jumping on the green bandwagon just to tap into a market then it is up to the consumers to spend a little time and research who is really making the afford to be environmentally sustainable.

    You will never control how and what is being recycled but you can spend your dollars on products and companies that are doing the better job of being eco-friendly.

  4. Gerry St. Onge, June 16, 2010 at 10:12 a.m.

    Great post Jeff!
    I can see that Vesta Green Marketing Solutions is focused on a holistic approach to green - in what you market and how you do business. I love the concept of your EcoHanger!
    As a town Councilman in Frenchtown, NJ, I champion our recycling program and the idea of a recyclable alternative to wire hangers is fantastic. I think most folks think that wire hangers are recyclable - they are not. In fact when they are mixed in the recycle stream, that really gum up the whole recycling process, getting caught in the sorting machinery causing breakdowns and increasing the cost of recycling.
    I love to see the explosion of innovations in the green marketplace. Thanks for your vision, knowledge and leadership!

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