Green-Coloured Glasses: Vol 2

It’s no secret that ‘green is the new black’ – which is a good thing. Our society is beginning to make strides in our purchasing behaviour, all for the sake of environmental preservation. The masses are slowly starting to recognize the value of something other than comfort and convenience. But unfortunately there is an abundance of brands looking to get a piece of the eco-pie for all the wrong reasons. Whether it’s to squeeze out an extra buck from naïve consumers, or to mask the nasty truth of their operation, some companies have gone to sordid lengths to appear green.

In July 2007, GM used its best-selling Chevrolet line to launch its multi-million dollar ‘Gas-Friendly to Gas-Free’ advertising campaign. The campaign boasts the steps they’ve taken to increase fuel efficiency; produce vehicles that can run on E85 ethanol; and develop hybrids and fuel cells. Since the launch,
Chevy’s website, commercials and print ads contain green-friendly images that suggest its’ support of the environment.

What is misleading about GM’s efforts is the extent to which the company is advertising its green technologies, while they’re still the leading producer in gas-guzzling vehicles. What is worse, the company claimed to be a fuel solutions leader, while working behind the scenes to derail attempts to increase fuel economy standards.

Another example of greenwashing comes from Fiji. This brand of bottled water has recently developed a website called
www.fijigreen.com, a slick-looking device positioning Fiji as an environmentally conscious brand that is taking action to become ‘carbon negative’. It’s clean design and hopeful copy outlines all the steps they’re taking to save the rainforests and reduce their carbon footprint.

In a seemingly transparent effort to involve themselves and consumers in the quest for sustainability, Fiji has invited outraged eco-activists to label the brand ‘the poster child for greenwashing’. This accusation was made because bottled water, by nature, is not an environmentally sustainable industry. Not only do the vast majority of North Americans throw water bottles in the garbage, but also every one of their bottles is shipped all the way from Fiji, making it difficult to see how they are helping reduce carbon emissions. However, with a big enough budget, Fiji has produced an alarmingly convincing website that is no doubt luring naive consumers as I write this.

The above examples were chosen for their obvious and audacious nature, but unfortunately there are thousands of companies that fall into the grey area of greenwashing. With so many different ways to be green, it’s almost impossible to claim you’re green for one effort without contradicting yourself in another. This creates a laundry list of brands that leave themselves vulnerable to the greenwash label, just by declaring themselves environmentally friendly. Check out the last installment that explores a new consumer crusade to catch brands green-handed.

No comments:

Post a Comment