After the session today I was thinking about greenwashing and I found this roadmap in the internet. It shows how a company, with a change of heart, found its way out of the disease named greenwashing.
- We admitted we were powerless with greenwashing – that our company had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a concept greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our business strategy over to the care of environment and society as we understood it.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to society, to ourselves and to other human beings the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have real sustainability efforts remove all these defects of our company.
- Humbly asked to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take our companies inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through reflections on our business to improve our conscious contact with the environment and society as we understood it, acquiring more knowledge to support those efforts.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other greenwashers and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
So you can see, they had an awakening as the result of letting go of greenwashing. If you admit that there is something wrong and you realize that you can change and that this change is for the good of all, also you will benefit from it. But to be honest, I didn’t find this list with exactly those words in the Internet. It is actually the 12 steps from Alcoholics Anonymus which I edited a little bit to make it fit greenwashing. (Here is a link to the original steps so you can see what I edited: http://www.aa.org.au/members/twelve-steps.php) Nevertheless I found that those steps can quite easily be applied to the topic of greenwashing. =)
My personal position towards greenwashing is two sided. On the one hand of course I think that it is wrong to do so, but on the other hand I also believe that it kind of signals the first step towards real efforts. I would say a company that starts greenwashing is better than a company that doesn’t, assuming that those two companies are identical. The thing is that by greenwashing a company publicly acknowledges that there is a problem, even though they are only pretending to do something against it. Having undertaken this step there is hardly a way back. As long as everybody believes that the efforts are real other companies have to follow up and introduce sustainability concepts as well, as the greenwashing company puts pressure on the market. Of course this will result in new greenwashers, but also real efforts. The point is that it will be almost impossible for companies somewhen not to behave sustainably in at least some way and also greenwashing companies will find it more and more difficult to conceal their practices. This will very likely lead them to adept real ‘green’ behavior or face the wrath of the consumer society when uncovered. So in my opinion greenwashing has a good side as well as it helps the whole market to acknowledge problems, and this acknowledgement is the first step to healing.
One more note:
Greenwashers Anonymus meetings are taking place every 1st and 3rd Friday each month. Address is Eerikinkatu 23, please register on our homepage first (of course anonymously) so we can estimate the number of people attending. Drinks not included! 😉