What is Green Marketing?
What does it mean to “be green” to you? From my perspective, “being green” is to respect the environment, care about the impact you have on the world, and advocate for positive environmental change. Green Marketing is the practice of promoting products and services that provide inherent benefits to the environment. Green Marketing was a term coined in the 1980s, but these days it’s often referred to as Sustainable Marketing.
Achieving this can be done in a multitude of ways. Altering the production process to be more sustainable tends to be a goal for most companies. While replacing packaging with recyclable alternatives is generally the easiest to implement. Along with these, creating more equitable and safe work environments should be a goal for all companies. Lastly, modifying advertising, often to represent these new green initiatives is a common practice.
In Scouting, we live by the motto: “Leave No Trace”, a set of outdoor ethics guiding us through the world. Simply put, the idea is to not alter your environment, but survive in the existing one, while ensuring not to leave lasting remnants of your stay. In business, these same principles can be applied, and as an Eagle Scout, I feel compelled to bring them to light.
How is Green Marketing Beneficial?
Green Marketing is advantageous for a variety of reasons. Notably, because you are aligning yourself with the values of millions of people nationally and internationally. This alone should never be the reason you lean into a Green Marketing approach as this could result in what’s known as “Greenwashing”, which we will discuss in the next section.
The benefits to Green Marketing go further than just clean air or clean water though. A truly sustainable business takes into account all facets of the business. From the working conditions in factories to the procurement of raw materials, and marketing methods. By ensuring all these elements of a business are done through sustainable practices, we create a healthier more equitable world for all of us to live in.
When you can guarantee that certain standards and qualifications are met, you can work to become a B-Corp (Benefit Corporation). In essence, a B-Corp is a for-profit business that has certified social and environmental performance. What does this mean? Well, any company registered as a B-Corp holds itself to higher standards and expectations of equality and sustainable business practices. Additionally, they have to be audited and certified by a 3rd party that qualifies them as a B-Corp. We’ll discuss an example of a B-Corp and their current initiatives in a later section, keep reading.
Greenwashing: What is that?
Not everyone implementing Green Marketing strategies has the purest intentions. Unfortunately, Greenwashing is a rather common practice by companies around the world, which entails falsely marketing your business and/or products as environmentally sustainable, making promises you never intend to fulfill, or setting goals that are simply unattainable.
Greenwashing works for companies because consumers often take information at face value, so when the media gets light, they pick up the “good news” story and run with it.
When the media is running a story about how great a company is, consumers inherently want to go support that. This creates a massive problem in the world, especially for good companies who are actively working towards sustainability, at the expense of profit, and market share.
Check out this blog from Earth.org: 10 Companies and Corporations Called Out For Greenwashing
Companies Implementing Green Marketing Initiatives
We’ve covered Green Marketing and its counterpart Greenwashing, let’s continue with some more positive information. Companies around the world are actively working towards green initiatives of all kinds. It’s important to note, that becoming sustainable requires ongoing action, tackling new challenges before they become a broader problem. Don’t let the achievements of some companies deter you from wanting to set goals of your own. These companies often hold a lot of responsibility due to the scale of their businesses.
PepsiCo – pep+
It’s no secret that PepsiCo is one of the world’s largest companies, and likewise, they’re also one of the world’s largest polluters. They are conscious of this and have made strides across the globe to reduce their impact on the environment and work towards creating a more sustainable and equitable future for all. A great example of this, in 2020 PepsiCo exceeded their safe water access goal five years early. Their goal was delivering safe water to 55 million people by 2025, and now they’ve reset their sights on delivering safe water to 100 million people by 2030.
Chnge.org – Sustainable Clothing
In the year 2022, there are more “fast fashion” companies than ever before. Chnge.org has set out to combat the unsustainable nature of the fast fashion industry. They educate their consumers about the harmful business practices while creating a far more sustainable product themselves. “At CHNGE we are committed to challenging the status quo of this otherwise polluting and manipulative industry through our commitment to carbon neutrality, responsible fabrics, fair wage practices, and minimizing waste.” They’re serious about carbon neutrality, so serious that they offset 48.5 lbs. of CO2 for every shirt they produce. This ensures the CO2 from their supply chain and your first 50 washes are covered ahead of time.
Patagonia – 1% Earth Tax
Patagonia is a shining star of the Green Marketing movement, becoming the first B-Corp in California in 2012. Since 1985, they’ve pledged 1% of their annual sales to the preservation and restoration of our environment. They donate these funds to grassroots foundations worldwide making a difference in their communities. Taking this a step further, in 2002 a non-profit, 1% for the Planet was co-founded by Patagonia’s CEO. They created an alliance of companies that understand the necessity of protecting and restoring our natural environment. The non-profit similar to Patagonia’s 1% Earth Tax, provides an outlet for companies to make real contributions, and counteract greenwashing.
For most businesses, the ability to dramatically change the way you operate is simply not possible. This is why we see these large corporations set lofty goals for the distant future. Unfortunately, many argue that time is the one thing we don’t have when it comes to rectifying the environmental impact of a hundred years of industrialization.
So what can you do right now?
What you can do
For a lot of small-medium-sized businesses, you may not have the financial resources to simply “offset” your impact. But look within, there are actionable steps you can take today, that will make a difference tomorrow.
So ask yourself, “Am I doing everything in my power to reduce waste in my business?”
In this vein, “waste” could be anything.
For a restaurant owner: Ensuring not to over prep food, that will end up getting thrown out. Or contact your local food shelter, to provide them with food daily, knowing you can over-prep intentionally for them. Working toward sustainability, you could implement software that helps you track and plan your stock based on the historical trends in your restaurant.
For an office manager: Ensure your staff shuts down their systems, and technology every day. Take it a step further, with software you could monitor the usage of your staff’s technology, enabling you to power off the entire office at the end of the day (and don’t forget the lights on your way out Tom).
Now, these examples alone, don’t justify calling yourself a sustainable business or constitute a green marketing strategy, but taking these actions will ensure you’re moving your business forward in the right direction.
As advocates for the environment, CarbonWeb strives to be as green and lean as possible. We’ve hosted annual clean-ups pre-covid to spread our message, maintain a paperless office, and are open advocates for sustainable businesses. We have big dreams of reducing the world’s carbon footprint, but until we know exactly how, it’s better for us to support those that do.
I heavily encourage you to visit the 1% for the Planet’s website and explore all the amazing initiatives and organizations they support.