50 shades of green

Monday’s lecture brought up the issue of greenwashing, and we watched a YouTube clip of the seven sins of greenwashing (which are hidden trade-offs, no proof, vagueness, fibbing, irrelevance, lesser of two evils and worshipping false labels). It got me a bit irritated, as I feel that sometimes the enthusiasm may actually harm the agenda. Also Ken Peattie and Andrew Crane acknowledged this in their article ‘Green marketing: legend, myth, farce or prophecy?’ where they discuss the reasons why green marketing has seemingly underachieved in the last couple of decades.

One of the many reasons Peattie and Crane list is that “companies have become cautious about launching environmentally-based communications campaigns for fear of being accused of “green washing””. Based on just my personal feeling, I can agree with them. I definitely understand the need for different systems of verification and regulation, so that not just anything can be sold with as green. At the same time I think it is better to do a little something than not do anything.

As we have discussed in the class, it is often really difficult, or even impossible to pick the best choice in regards of sustainability. “It depends”, we often find is the end result. Instead of a good’old green or not green, we seem to be having ‘good enough green’, ‘greenish’, ‘quite pale’, ‘so-and-so’, ‘mint’ and ‘so not green’ – the whole palette. It depends on so many things. Like Frank said in the class and Marleen suggested in her post, the relevant thing to do is to look at the big picture. I don’t mean to sound careless, but maybe it is better to appreciate the shades of green we have instead of being completely unsatisfied, because none of them is perfect.

/Jenni

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1 comment
  1. annasofiah said:

    This quote caught my eye: “companies have become cautious about launching environmentally-based communications campaigns for fear of being accused of “green washing””. I can agree with the writers of the quote, too, but is environmentally-based communication really needed if the company is truly acting sustainably, not just communicating like they’d be doing something good? There are many Finnish companies that are actually doing a lot of good without feeling the need to fuss about it too much. For example the energy company ST1 producing sustainable bioethanol doesn’t do CSR reporting, and when talking about the elevator and escalator company KONE, many people don’t realize how eco-efficient their new elevators are.

    I’m not saying that e.g. philantrophy wouldn’t be better than doing nothing, definitely all possible shades of green are needed to make this world a better place, but is it really a problem if there are less environmentally-based campaigns, like H&M’s Conscius Collection mentioned in another post (which seems like kind of a joke to me as well)? Instead of hiring a famous model and spending piles of money to advertizing, the company could do more toward sustainability in practice. But I guess it wouldn’t fit to the business model of H&M’s to campaign about e.g. how to make your clothes last longer. So as many times before during the course, once again I have to say these things are not easy to solve and definitely not black-and-white – or just one shade of green.

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