Sustainability: Kosher Green

I’ve really noticed an uptick in green discussions here in the print industry. As mentioned, WTT just had a whole green week and, almost overnight, every e-newsletter to which I subscribe has added a section on the environment.

Now, I will be the last person complaining about all this. My enthusiasm for the topic of sustainability has been well documented on this blog, but with any encouragement must come a note of caution (especially on this front). I’ve written about greenwashing a few times, and I’m extending the reminder yet again. As more green discussions happen around you and you’re more tempted to quickly latch on, don’t forget that honesty and authenticity are really at the forefront of this issue. Your customers want your commitment, not your slapped together, “but it has green font!” marketing campaign that really has no chops.

Last week, Brand Channel had a great article, Grading Green: The Watchdogs CMOs Must Appease, that discussed the leading groups that are working to regulate the green front. As the article points out:

In the lawless and unregulated landscape of going green, it became clear that someone, somewhere, needed to step in to provide some semblance of order and a credible means of measuring the myriad of ways companies can go, and pretend to go, green.

I definitely recommend reading the article as it describes the top three watchdog groups and what they’re looking for.

Then yesterday I was reading Seth Godin’s marketing blog and came across this post about the impending backlash against all the green marketing consumers are currently seeing. Seth’s argument tackles the idea of authenticity in a different way; he suggests the power of proof, especially when consumers get sick of all the green marketing and just want the bottom line:

The power of a number is the effect we saw when they put a number on restaurants (Zagats) and wines (Parker) and gas mileage (the EPA). People notice a number, and they work to improve it.

Seth’s thoughts on the topic are very interesting, especially considered in conjunction with the Brand Channel article. The warning signs are clearly flashing and we’d all be wise to heed the alarm.


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