However, if you promote, market or make any advertising claims about your products or services being “sustainable” “green” or “eco-friendly” then you should understand the importance of this term. And more so, the negative impact it could have on your business!
What Greenwashing Is…
Greenwashing is in essence the practice of making unsubstantiated or misleading claims about the actual environmental benefits of a product, service, technology or company. And with the FTC cracking down on such deceptive claims, doing so could land you and your biz in deep doo doo!
“Recent polls reflect that 78% of consumers would boycott a Greenwashed product”
Consumers Have Become Better Informed
Consumers have become better informed about the choices they make regarding the products and or brands they purchase for themselves and their families. Furthermore, consumer choices tend to have a lot of emotion associated with them.
While larger companies may be able to take a hit with deceptive Greenwashed advertising, throw in the speed at which Social Media can expose your claims, and smaller companies may find it hard to recover from such a blow.
With this knowledge, you must truly consider how you market your products and services. You NEED TO BE TRANSPARENT and give consumers the whole story!!
A Few Examples of Greenwashing
You may still be wondering about this Greenwashing stuff, so here are a few examples that may help to clarify things a bit….
Take the example of VOC paint. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound which means they release fewer VOCs into the air after painting. Paints that promote themselves as No or Low VOC paint may help fix paint’s reputation as an environmental offender. However, the lines become blurred as once you add tint to the base color of a Low or No VOC paint it can no longer be categorized as such. Hence Greenwashing. And there is actually a legal case against a paint brand for doing this.
Another example: “a family company” promoting one of its famous yet incredibly toxic products – Windex. This TV commercial used to have me yelling at the TV whenever it came on. Johnson would state how they used Wind Energy to fuel their production plants. Really?? If they were going for “the family company” angle as the emotion to promote their products it didn’t work. At least not the way they may have thought it would. Thankfully the commercial appeared to be short-lived.
And hint hint folks, you really do not need all those toxic house-cleaning products! An online search of “do-it-yourself” eco-friendly cleaning products will pop up with countless things you already have in your cupboards.
Doing so costs way less and without the nasty, toxic effects!
Greenwashing – Good Resources to Review:
The above examples are merely a few of the many. In fact I believe there are actually Greenwashing lists that will provide a host of info of companies who have been caught in the cross-fire. The best advice, just don’t do it!
Make sure your marketing departments are well aware of the ramifications of deceptive environmental claims. Many environmental claims can be far too general. Be specific to your consumers and tell them the whole story. Your product may be “compostable” but only in a large scale composting facility and NOT in your backyard composting bin. Get it??
And if your business currently offers any “Green” services or products, and you want to learn about the potential risks of being perceived as a Greenwasher, be sure to review the following resources:
- How to Make Advertising Claims That Consumers Will Trust:
A Marketers’ Guide to the Federal Trade Commission Green Guides
- Developing a Credible Green Marketing Strategy
- The NEW FTC Green Guides and how they may affect you
- The FTC Green Guides: What you need to know
Written by Barbara Rogers of Future Primitive Graphics. Graphic Designer and Nature Inspired Art photographer visually enhancing client’s print and digital media. Creatively collaborating with those who genuinely want to make the world a better place.