Going Green Shouldn’t be about the Green

September 28, 2009

As a public relations agency, we are responsible for portraying our clients’ stories and news in the best light. Every person in this industry has at one time or another used fluff, superlatives and excessive adjectives to promote products and companies. However, there is a fine line that PR professionals must teeter, but never cross when it comes to doing this job.

We’ve all heard of the term greenwashing. With the boom of “green” products it was only inevitable that every Tom, Dick and Harry would want to jump on the bandwagon. But a word of caution to every company who believes they have something to offer in the green space: do it for the right reasons (and no, increasing profits isn’t the right reason).  

I recently read this great article on Newsweek, “It Ain’t Easy Being Green”. The editor focuses on hotel chains that claim to be green by not changing towels and sheets everyday to reduce the amount of water and energy demands the hotel requires to run their washers. It’s a novel idea, however this tactic has some strong implications that the root of going green comes down to just that…the green. It’s no surprise that in these economic times companies are looking for ways to cut costs. But many are starting to cut costs and claim that they are going green. Do you ever wonder where the money the hotel is saving by not washing your towels everyday goes to? If you guess into their bottom line, ding ding, you’re correct. I have no problems with companies taking these measures to save resources, however I have a problem when companies claim they are being green, but what they really mean is they are saving green.

Going green means a company is taking the proper steps to ensure that ALL pieces of their business are reducing its environmental impact, not just the ones that will save them money. Going green costs money, especially in the short term. In looking at Newsweek’s recent “Greenest Big Companies in America”, the top big businesses that have gone green are doing it the right way. These companies are changing the way it does business, and looking at everything from operating costs to materials used and production, and finding how to do it with less of an impact on our environment.

Companies understand that offering green products is going to become a necessity. When promoting these products, make sure that it isn’t just a ploy to jump on the bandwagon, but that the company has a serious investment in doing what is right for the environment, not just the bottom line. You have to cover all of your bases when putting this product to market, otherwise you will take the wrath. “Green” forums, blogs and media are ruthless. If there are inconsistencies in your story or product, they will find them, and they will call you out – as they should.

When rolling out green products or green initiatives, make sure you do your homework. And read Katie’s Tips to Avoid Greenwashing on the basics of what to do and what not to do when promoting a “green”

Posted by: Lauren