Environmental sustainability is something all businesses should strive for in their practices. Choosing to create green products or sustainable solutions not only helps your consumer, but helps your company distinguish itself from competitors. However, in this pursuit there is an increasingly common practice, known as greenwashing, which accomplishes none of the real goals of business’ environmental consciousness.
“Greenwashing” is when a company makes general claims about their business’ or product’s environmental sustainability which are exaggerated or not true. By inflating their green practices, they reap the benefits of marketing as a sustainable brand without actually making the environmental impact that customers believe they are. This is an unfair and misleading marketing tactic that hurts not only customers, but the business and the environment itself.
Companies that are truly committed to environmental sustainability will take the steps necessary to make real change at their facilities. Below are just a couple of ways you can ensure you’re really making an environmental impact, and not just greenwashing to customers:
Incorporate environmental sustainability into your mission.
Any company can make the choice to incorporate green practices into the core of their brand mission. No matter what product or industry you’re competing in, you can make environmental sustainability or eco-friendly design a part of your goals. Even if your company is not focused on green technology, you can make the choice to reduce your environmental impact in business operations, charitable giving, and much more.
Look for the small ways to change.
Environmental sustainability starts small. For example, you can choose a biodegradable packaging for your products rather than a plastic to reduce your environmental footprint. You can start by reducing your paper waste, or by organizing a company fundraiser every year to help a local environmental protection group. You don’t have to go big to make a real impact — and market yourself as a green company — as long as you are honest about your intentions.
Be specific in your promises to customers.
One method that is common for companies to “greenwash” is by generalizing their environmental claims. For example, they may call a product eco-friendly, but have no evidence to back it up. If you truly want to help you customers make a better buying decision, list the ways in which your product is environmentally-friendly. Examples include:
- Reduced waste packaging
- Using natural or organic ingredients
- Sourcing materials from organic or sustainable farms
- Reducing or eliminating plastic and non-biodegradable materials in the product itself
- Using renewable energy sources in your facility operations
- Designing an energy-efficient model of a product
Never lie by omission.
This is an especially troubling greenwashing practice because it is so common, and so hard to see. Companies often make claims about the one way in which their product or service is sustainable, but fail to recognize the many ways in which it isn’t. The best way to avoid this is by constantly reviewing your environmental practices, and owning up to the mistakes of the past. You won’t get everything right the first time, but by showing customers how you’ve evolved to become a more sustainable company, you are exemplifying true transparency.
MaintenX wants to help all of our clients create more sustainable and green work environments. To learn more about ways you can create a more energy-efficient facility, contact us.