Sobering News on Greenwashing and Standardization

I just completed a new Dix & Eaton “Emerging Trends” article about the need to initiate or expand two-way communications on sustainability with key constituents, particularly employees and key suppliers.  It’s the conversation you can’t afford not to have.

But there are two recent announcements that I must share with you as you consider your options and join the conversations:

Greenwashing is assumed to be alive and well: Some industry analysts and researchers believe “talking the talk but not walking the walk” in sustainability is ubiquitous. Scot Case, of the environmental consulting firm TerraChoice, told Congress recently that 98 percent of 4,000 consumer products evaluated made false or misleading sustainability claims. In addition, more than two-thirds of Americans believe a “green” designation for a company is “just a marketing tactic.”

Standards lack standardization: More than 300 different organizations claim to certify organizations, products or services as “green” or “sustainable.” The alphabet soup of organizations and certifications seems to have no limits, as indicated by my “green certifications” Google search result that returned 4.5 million images.

That’s a whole lot of sobering, discouraging news. Fortunately, good sustainability communications strategy and leadership can still be a difference-maker.

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