There is no question that making the individual effort to be more environmentally conscious is a good thing. However, determining best practices can get tricky with corporations going public about going green, especially when it comes to transparency and honesty with consumers. “Green-washing” refers to the unethical practice of exaggerating or outright lying to consumers about the environmental-friendliness of a company’s practices, solely to improve the brand image. Consumers, once-bitten and now twice-shy, have become more skeptical about companies that make grand claims about the sustainability of their products or practices.
"Green washing" may be the dirtiest word in marketing. It's the opposite of transparency. But that's not responsible business, and in the long run, marketers who greenwash are only making customers more mistrustful and immune to their own messages, be they from marketing, PR, or the local green-eared painter. How can responsible businesses communicate what they're doing transparently, and should they even try? We asked some of the industry's top sustainability advocates, and this is what they said.
In our previous post of "Marketing Sustainably," we introduced an expert discussion on whether or not recycling collection of discarded mail, catalogs, printed communications and paper packaging is profitable, and why this matters is an important business consideration for the direct marketing field. In this post, we continue and conclude the discussion with our two experts, Monica Garvey, director of sustainability, Verso Paper, and Meta Brophy, director of procurement operations, Consumer Reports.
Does, in fact, the encouragement of recycling of direct mail create profit for marketers, or simply good public relations (both being beneficial). Two experts from the field—Monica Garvey, director of sustainability, Verso Paper Corporation, and Meta Brophy, director of procurement operations, Consumer Reports—weighed in with their opinions and observations.
Whether you call it "Green Purchasing," "Sustainable Sourcing" or "Environmentally Preferred Procurement," evaluating whether or not suppliers meet your own environmental standards—and creating buyer/supplier relationships that reinforce those standards—drives sustainability through your print and paper supply chains.
It's a phrase Brian Cowart probably says a lot: "I'm sorry I made you cry." It's not that the senior vice president of national direct marketing for ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is mean. It's that Target Marketing magazine's 2011 Direct Marketer of the Year is such an effective communicator about his organization—which works to cure children of cancer and other catastrophic diseases—that listeners' tears just come naturally.