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Arment Dietrich

No Greenwashing!

By: Arment Dietrich | April 22, 2009 | 
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With all of today’s news, it was hard to decide on just one topic for today… address the latest on how Domino’s reacted to those gross videos posted online? Overdone by now. Comment on Pizza Hut’s latest announcement looking for a summer intern to run their Twitter? Yawn. Ponder how Freddie Mac will react publicly to their CEO’s suicide?  Too distressing.

 I could go on and on with other headlines but to me, the most important news of the day is that it is Earth Day. PULLLEEEZZZ don’t roll your eyes! It’s here to stay (thank goodness!) and in this economy, it’s important to our customers.

My past life was in horticulture and several years ago, at our publishing company, we saw the need to be a leader when it came to educating and informing our readers about sustainability.  It was amazing how many in our industry confused sustainability with organic and got all up in arms thinking we were trying to tell them they had to “go all the way” to getting organic certification in order to run their businesses in a more sustainable manner.  It’s much more simple than that and I make that point just to hold the interest of those naysayers who are tired of all the “green” talk and think to be sustainable you have to be a full-time tree-hugging/composting/seldom-showering hippie.

Anyone and everyone can participate in Earth Day in their own small way but I digress…My main point of discussion for this post is a term called greenwashing. I thought. by now, it was common knowledge but just recently I used the term with someone and they asked me to explain. In very brief terms, this is when a company deceptively makes a claim of being green or environmentally friendly to benefit financially. In the beginning of the “green” movement, too many marketers jumped on the bandwagon touting their “greenness” without being able to back it up with real, quantifiable facts.  The key in your marketing message, if you are touting anything about being environmentally friendly or responsible, is to do your research.  Make sure you understand every step of the process when it comes to your sourcing, manufacturing, distribution, employee practices, certification and so on.  Use third party verification sources whenever possible. Be as transparent as possible. Know the terminology; know the hot buttons of your customer.

Lastly, and let’s hope not, but if your research wasn’t enough and something out of your control occurs,  make sure you have a good communications plan in place to handle any crisis that might arise.   

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