Environmental Marketing–Too Easy Being Green.

I’m working on a paper on Environmental Marketing right now.   I should have started the paper MONTHS ago.  I was really hoping to give it  a full, thorough effort and seek publication.  However, due to the time crunch, I’m going to be forced to give it only the minimum attention necessary to pass, and I’ll have to come back after graduation and fix it if I want to try to get it published.  (I wrote an article last year that was selected for publication and is finally getting published this month.  In that article, I put a lot of work into filling in details and discussing side issues in the footnotes.  I sometimes spent hours on one footnote.  That is the part that will be lacking in this one for now).

For those who don’t know, environmental marketing is the use of claims that a product/service/process is “environmentally friendly” in someway or “green.”  For example, claiming something is biodegradable, recyclable, “uses less plastic”, or is “carbon neutral.”  If you look at almost any product these days, there is bound to be some kind of assertion about how the product is friendly or friendlier to the environment.  About 15 years ago a bunch of articles came out calling for a federal pre-emptive (to override any state laws) standard for green marketing.  The problem is that when there aren’t uniform definitions for what terms mean, it’s hard for customers to understand what they mean, it’s hard for honest corporations to figure out how to avoid liability for false advertising, and it’s easier for, let’s say less honest, corporations to abuse green claims and tout them even when their products are not environmentally friendly.  Anyway, all these years later, there is still no federal, pre-emptive standard, and I’m arguing in my paper that we need one now more than ever, with new claims like carbon neutrality and sustainability springing up. 

A really interesting thing about this topic that I will not have time to focus on is the fact that environmental marketing is worldwide.  What had sparked my interest in this topic was a project I did for work last summer.  I created a teleconference on the basics of environmental marketing laws (business people from around the country called in to listen) for a partner at my firm. 

So this was all fresh in my mind when I went to Europe, and I was especially aware of all the claims.  My favorite grocery store in London, Marks & Spencer, was green claim central: all the products were covered in green claims and the walls announced how environmentally friendly their products were.  I think Marks & Spencer was even ranked as one of the most environmentally friendly corporations in London.  But even outside of London I would see plastic bottles claiming to be less plastic, coffee cups claiming to be recyclable or biodegradable, and flew on european airlines that claimed their service was carbon neutral (the idea of being carbon neutral is that if you put out a lot of pollution, you plant a bunch of trees or something like that to make up for it, so basically the good air cancels out the bad air and you’re neutral). 

Why am I writing about this? Because I spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday working on this thing.  I still only have 10 pages and I need 25.  There is PLENTY to write, I just can’t get myself to write it.

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One thought on “Environmental Marketing–Too Easy Being Green.

  1. Good luck! It sounds really interesting, and I had no idea there was no federal standard for all these “green” terms. That really stinks…
    (I’m so verbose. hah.)

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