How to Greenwash Better (Or how to be Inauthentic and Vague)


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Seth Bauer's presentation on green marketing and communications from Sustainable Brands 10 conference

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How to Greenwash Better (Or how to be Inauthentic and Vague)

  1. 1. How to Greenwash Better Seth Bauer
  2. 2. How to Greenwash Better Thoughts For Companies on the Verge of Doing the Right Thing
  3. 3. What is Greenwashing? “The act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service”
  4. 4. What is Reporting on Greenwashing? Ideally, investigative reporting that protects consumers from deceptive marketers.
  5. 5. What are the effects of such reporting? 1.  protects consumers from deceptive marketers 2. Inadvertently scares companies away from making any environmental claims whatsoever.
  6. 6. Who Greenwashes? Research Report: TerraChoice Environmental Marketing identified 1,018 consumer products bearing 1,753 environmental claims.
  7. 7. Results: “6 Sins of GreenwashingTM” 1. Sin of the Hidden Trade-Off 2. Sin of No Proof 3. Sin of Vagueness 4. Sin of Irrelevance 5. Sin of Fibbing 6. Sin of Lesser of Two Evils
  8. 8. Take a Guess Of the 1,018 products examined, how many did NOT make claims that the researchers felt were false or misleading?
  9. 9. Products analyzed 1,018
  10. 10. Green Claims 1,753
  11. 11. No False or Misleading Statements 1
  12. 12. We are all greenwashers
  13. 13. Concerned, Not Up in Arms •  Cone study –  32% of Americans more interested in the environment than 1 year ago –  91% have a more positive image of a company if it’s environmentally friendly
  14. 14. Concerned, Not Up in Arms –  85% would switch to another company’s products if they heard negative reports •  But . . . –  47% purchased environmentally friendly products/services
  15. 15. Lesson 1 We can’t all be worms Everything we make uses resources and creates waste
  16. 16. Lesson 2 Hey, that thing moves The green bar can be set at any height
  17. 17. Lesson 3 No matter how far you go There’s always someone to your left
  18. 18. Takeaway 1 Greenwash Better DON’T mislead consumers regarding the environmental practices of your company or the environmental benefits of your products
  19. 19. Takeaway 2 Greenwash Better DON’T shy away from doing the right thing even if you can’t go all the way
  20. 20. Takeaway 3 Greenwash Better DO recognize that for companies as for consumers, going green is a gradual process, not an all or nothing plunge.
  21. 21. Takeaway 4 Greenwash Better DON’T disparage the competition for moving in the right direction. DO hold them to high standards for science and honesty.
  22. 22. Takeaway 5 Greenwash Better DO help educate the consumer. Consumer’s Four Questions: 1.  What CAN I buy? 2.  What do I save? 3.  What else can I do? 4.  How important is this, really?