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.
But even when corporations are honestly seeking to be more sustainable in their practice AND to let the consumers know what sorts of initiatives their dollars are supporting, it can be tricky to know how to do the right thing. Thorin Mcgee, editor-in-chief of Target Marketing posed important questions about the ethics of “going public” with green initiatives, the best way to be transparent with consumers without alienating them, and what missteps to avoid in this article.
In the article, top advocates for sustainability in the industry, including DMA’s own SVP, Corporate and Social Responsibility, Senny Boone. Senny joins Chet Dalzell, author of the “Marketing Sustainably” blog, and Meta Brophy, director of procurement operations at Consumer Reports, in discussing issues of transparency and sustainability initiatives, including DMA’s RecyclePlease initiative.
As a key player in the industry’s self-regulation, and pursuer of companies who engage in bad practices, DMA takes both sustainability AND transparency very seriously. Our RecyclePlease initiative seeks to educate consumers about the recyclability of direct mailing materials they may receive, as well as about the importance of recycling electronic goods as well! We want to battle the misconception that digital marketing has no impact upon the environment while direct mail is highly impactful. After all, paper can be recycled, but a company which derives the energy powering its computers and databases from unsustainable sources is not helping the environment any more than one deriving its paper materials from unsustainably-farmed trees!
For more information on RecyclePlease, feel free to visit the website and read for yourself about our “green goals” for direct marketing. DMA also has an environmental policy generator, which shows the key areas which companies should review to attain compliance with DMA’s “Green 15” environmental performance indicators. Consumers respect organizations that are honest and open about their efforts to sustain the environment—it’s good for your brand AND good for the earth!