Hunting the Eco-Bounty

In the interest of eco-friendliness (naturally), I bring you this update from an unlit bedroom with the power of my laptop’s battery.

So much of what we hear lately is about going green. As a Michigan State student (and lifelong fan), I’ve been yelling “Go Green!” as long as I can remember. Fortunately, the agricultural history of America’s first land-grand institution backs that phrase up, and with the help of the estate of Nick Drake, combined for a beautiful ad for the university and a reminder of who’s been going green from the start.

So what does it take to “Go Green?” My boss, Derek, recently let me know about a really great piece from trendwatching.com, a site that gives some great insights into trends across all industries — in other words, a goldmine for entrepreneurs. The article, Eco-Bounty, is part of their monthly trend briefing, a detailed profile of whoever or whatever is making the most buzz.

The key bit of information the article provides for marketers, entrepreneurs, and anyone else feeling the eco-friendly movement starting to gain speed is laid out in a very simple way: being green isn’t just nice to Mother Earth — it’s where the money is. Want green? Be green.

Eco-consciousness is becoming a status symbol. Excess is out and cheap is chic (you have to wonder if Steve and Barry are wishing they’d not overextended themselves to the point of bankruptcy last year — I can imagine Starbury Shoes are probably looking pretty good to a lot of families right now). From solar-powered boats to grass-covered roofs, there are a lot of ways that individuals and businesses can make themselves stand out in a way to showcase their brand as trendsetting, young, and conservational all at once. Greenwashing is already becoming a concern for eco-conscious consumers, so companies who want to claim their eco-friendliness had better be prepared to back it up.

With a recession in full-swing, there’s no better time than the present to start thinking about conserving, whether you’re a college student trying to stretch out that food budget for the week, or a CEO looking to save on energy costs — making an investment in green now will keep you from going in the red later.

Nate Erickson

The Dangers of Greenwashing

So it’s already been established that ‘green’ is in at Ingenex. We’re actively searching for ways to make both Ingenex and our eco-friendly internship more sustainable. Several of our past blog posts on our eco-friendly internship discuss ways that we could move towards a greener future and mode of bussiness down in the brickyard. As you are well aware, there are tons of ‘green’ living tips, and stores are stocked full of products that are claiming to be ‘green’ ‘organic’ ‘sustainable’ etc. The seeming ubiquity of such products and services has got to make you wonder- do they live up to the claims they make? Enter the dangerously fine line between green and greenwashing.

Wikipedia describes greenwashing as a term ‘used to describe the perception of consumers that they are being misled by a company regarding the environmental practices of the company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.’ Essentially this is used in reference to a company’s loose usage of marketing and PR buzzwords to convince consumers that their consumption is beneficial to the planet, when in fact it is not. Frequently, these products are identical to their conventional counterparts. 

Environmental Marketing firm Terra Choice is famous for coining and publishing the ‘6 Sins of Greenwashing‘- a reference used to differentiate between companies’ incentives for greenwashing their products and services. Terra Choice quantifies these sins as 1. Sin of the hidden trade off, 2. Sin of no proof, 3. Sin of vagueness, 4. Sin of lesser of two evils, 5. Sin of lesser of two evils and 6. Sin of fibbing.

 

By making claims such as these, the legitimate green market becomes somewhat tainted. Consumers are no doubtly duped by companies making such false or half true claims. Because there is little to no regulation on ‘green’ business (although more certifications are becoming more readily available), many critics continue to dismiss all ‘green’ products and services, which ultimately hurts the industry. 

With the rise of the digital age, the consumer has endless resources available to them upon the click of a mouse.  A variety of product certification websites as well as  peer-reviewed technologies on companies’ websites aid to put the power back into the hands of the consumer. The most important tool the consumer has access to is the power of information. If one is aware that not ‘all that’s green is gold,’ they are far more likely to do the background research and choose the product with a legitimate certification and is therefore better for the environment. The Greenwash Brigade, Energy Star Program, and the We Buy it Green Blog all serve as excellent references to help you pick the truly eco-friendly products that you need.

The Eco-Friendly Intern team is actively be working towards making more green-ovations around Ingenex. We are proud to be actively aware of the misleading dangers of greenwashing and feel confident we are heading in the right direction with our heavy reliance on digital technologies. We believe that digital communications are sustainable and the way of the future!