Clear Green Marketing
Yes, transparency to the public is one of the principles we strive for. We have an environmental policy generator that companies may review which can show the key areas for a company's review, we also follow what we call the Green 15, a set of environmental goals for paper-based marketing and we are planning to release a digital version soon as well.
The public is one audience—transparency trumps being opaque almost all the time. But business leaders may also deem it important to act in an environmentally sensitive manner for communication with other audiences—namely employees and investors, and possibly partners and suppliers, and possibly non-governmental organizations who may have their business and brands in focus. The order or priority for communication among these audiences for any one business may be radically different.
"Going public"—the widest audience—is truly a brand, culture and business decision. Some companies may opt for more private environmental initiatives focused on their employees and their hometowns or home states, for example. Some companies wish to position themselves as a socially responsible investment target. A discipline to measure and document environmental impacts—according to global standards (such as International Standards Organization documentation)—provides guidance for how such environmental performance, improvements and reporting should be handled.
Q: Are there any key missteps you see organizations make in publicizing or discussing their environmental policies?
As you know, we pursue companies who are engaged in bad marketing practices as a part of our self-regulation. I have seen a few complaints over the years where a company is making claims that are not supported by proof, such as that by purchasing a certain product or service, a tree will be saved, or that a product has incredible benefits for the environment. Further, there have been a lot of attacks in the past on marketing and direct mail as being unfriendly to the environment and that a certain product or service would solve that by eliminating marketing—and that is not justified since paper can be recycled and the marketing community is highly aware of the need to ensure they protect environmental resources.