Laying down the (green) law
As standards become more well-defined and consumers demand more transparency, companies are increasingly in need of the skills to, first of all, begin that difficult process toward the ever-evolving “sustainable” business. But for those already on that path, an understanding of how to report and communicate their successes and hurdles is becoming essential as well. That’s where Colleen Kramer of Springleaf Strategies, a Raleigh-based marketing and sustainability consulting firm, comes in.
Kramer hopes that someday sustainability won’t simply be an “add on” component, but rather an integral part of the way business is done, which is incorporated into every aspect of a company’s design. She expressed this emerging business must-do during last week’s GreenNC conference in workshops entitled Building the Case for Sustainability and Authenticity in Sustainability & Marketing. Here’s what Kramer outlines as the "Laws of Green Marketing:"
Authenticity vs. flash: Don’t say you are doing something if you don’t actually have any plans of doing it. This includes avoiding “greenwashing” or making false or misleading claims to make your product or organization appear more sustainable than it really is. Steer clear of fluff words or visuals lacking in any substantial meaning such as “all natural,” “eco-friendly,” "environmentally sound,” etc.
Transparency: People are grateful for, and will reward honesty. It isn’t necessary to paint a bogus picture of roses and blue skies when the reality is that you are struggling on the road to sustainability. Be real about what challenges you are facing in taking on your company’s environmental, financial and social responsibility goals. Kramer points to Patagonia’s The Footprint Chronicles as a prime example of a company being genuinely transparent, where consumers can literally track a product they buy with a map that shows where the product came from. Patagonia then explains what they consider the good and the bad of that particular product’s environmental impact.