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Starbucks and $1 Reusable Mug: Trying to Fit a Shoe on the Wrong Foot

Starbucks introduces the $1 reusable plastic mug that bears the Starbucks logo and is white to match its disposable cups. The coffee chain will offer a dime discount to anyone with the reusable mug, hoping this will encourage coffee lovers to bring them in. This new offering comes in the wake of the Starbucks sharply reducing its goal of having 25% of its cups be reusable by 2015 to 5%.

But will it drive change?

January 3rd

Required Reading: Green Marketing 101

I recently came across the syllabus I put together for a graduate-level course in green marketing and communications and looking it over, it occurred to me that the materials included in the required reading list would outfit a nice library for anyone interested in learning about the topic.

December 6th

Green Windows or Green Washing?

Buying energy efficient windows is a win-win: the environment wins because less energy need be generated through the burning of fossil fuels, and the consumer wins by saving money on energy bills. It’s no surprise, then, that many homeowners are willing to pay a higher price for windows that claim to be energy efficient. What is surprising, however, is that many of the energy-efficiency claims made by window manufacturers, distributors, and sellers are outright false, or at least vastly overstated. Now consumers are forced to make a decision: are these green windows, or is it all a bad case of green washing?

October 12th

What's So Bad About Tar Sands?

How can we tell people about the most toxic fossil fuel on Earth?

Here’s one easy way: Watch and share this short animated video that shows what’s so bad about tar sands. Can you guess which famous Canadian-American actor provided the narration?

(Hint: He once voiced a “hunky environmentalist” on The Simpsons.)

June 18th

Is BP Going for Greenwash Gold at London 2012?

There are some serious contenders for greenwash gold, per Greenwash Gold 2012. This is a campaign that has been developed by three organisations – London Mining Network, Bhopal Medical Appeal and UK Tar Sands Network to bring companies with notorious backgrounds into the limelight. Many corporations use big events like the Olympic Games to portray a feel-good company but what are they hiding? How can we turn this huge platform against them?

April 19th

Green Marketing Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Transparency , product stewardship or life cycle management are some of the key hallmarks of any business, especially eco-centric businesses. Ben Grossman, through his guest lecture at Tufts University wants to bring home the point that a business can improve its branding and green marketing by concentrating on the basics.  I had the privilege of guest […]

April 2nd

Keystone XL Makes No Economic Sense for America

Keystone makes no economic sense for America. Once we take into account the true cost of oil including subsidies, environmental damage, and military costs, oil is far more expensive than the alternatives. The best thing we can do for the American economy and for American businesses as a whole is to wean ourselves from oil as quickly as possible.

January 16th

McDonald's Serves Up Some Greenwash With Its Fries

McDonald’s is launching an ad campaign focussed on its growers. The local food movement has caught on amongst concerned citizens wanting to know where their food really comes from. Obviously McDonalds has been watching and wants a piece of the “eat farm fresh” ideology.
McDonald’s U.S. Chief Marketing Officer Neil Golden told Ad Age, “We thought putting a face on the quality of the food story would be a unique way to approach this. We acknowledge that there are questions about where our food comes from. I believe we’ve got an opportunity to accentuate that part of our story.”

Why does all this sound like a bunch of greenwash storytelling?

December 27th

Green Collar Salvation: Are Green Jobs the Answer?

With the country in both an environmental crisis and an economical crisis, times are looking pretty dire for a lot of people. Those who are still employed aren’t certain how long they’ll be able to maintain their employment, and a lot of the nation’s traditional industries such as auto-manufacturing are going through some intense changes.

December 6th

Newsweek Names IBM – America’s Greenest Company

In its third annual Green Rankings, Newsweek has identified IBM as America’s greenest company. Newsweek partnered with two research organizations, Trucost and Sustainalytics, to analyze how companies interact with the environment. They took into account each company’s actual environmental footprint, including greenhouse gas emissions and water use; each company’s policies regarding environmental programs and initiatives; and each company’s disclosure or reporting.

December 5th

Green Labels or Greenwashing?

Taking care of the environment can be hard work in a consumption based society. Well-intentioned consumers need to know where and how their food was raised, how much of their waste is dumped in a landfill, and whether, not only products but their production methods are sustainable.
While this may seem like it’s getting easier as more companies jump on the green bandwagon, it is actually getting more complex. In addition to companies who intentionally mislead consumers by greenwashing their products, there are a number of companies who are legitimately doing things to help the environment, but they muddle the waters when trying to convey exactly what they are doing.

November 2nd

The Janum Marketplace Tackles Supply Chain Issues and Greenwashing in Consumer Products

Ever wondered where your favorite eco-friendly item came from or what its supply chain actually looked like? I sure do. Supply chains have become so complex and convoluted these days, there is no wonder that it is the number one issue that plaques sustainability initiatives and fosters greenwashing claims. One entrepreneur from San Francisco, Julian Coleman, probably also had the same questions when he founded Janum.

Janum is a unique online marketplace launched September 15, 2011, with the aim of making long supply chains transparent so that consumers, brands and producers all benefit. For every product sold on Janum the company shows consumers, through facts and videos, the places and people that made them, the fabrication steps, the ingredients and their impact on human and environmental health.

October 19th

Are the Proposed Revisions to LEED Forestry Standards Greenwash?

Yesterday, during the world’s largest green building conference, ForestEthics and three other organizations ran an ad in the Toronto Star warning that new forestry standards proposed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) would drastically lower its standards, and would effectively greenwash clearcuts and other destructive practices which the USGBC and Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) were ostensibly designed to rise above. But is that really so?

October 7th

ConAgra Suit Over "All Natural" Label on GMO Cooking Oils Highlights Greenwash

Most people know that there is nothing really natural about genetically modified organisms (GMO). Food giant ConAgra is in “hot oil” over claims that their line of cooking oils with GMO is labelled “all natural”. This suit has led to the bigger question mark and ongoing debate over food labeling and how consumers are misled on advertisement claims. Greenwashing claims on food labels are very prevalent making it very difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. GMO products are suspicious at best with no proven studies that they pose no health risks with the debate is still strong on whether they harm human health.

August 29th

Is LEED Greenwash?

Yesterday the U.S. Green Building Council was cleared of false advertising over its LEED certification. However, this speaks to the heart of the perennial question: What is greenwash?

August 19th

The Red Flags of Greenwashing

You’ve seen them on billboards, tv commercials, newspaper and internet ads: businesses claiming virtue by appearing to lighten their environmental impact. “Going green” may be the new trend but how can you discern genuine sustainable action from PR pranks? How can you tell which companies are walking the talk and which are just trying to open our wallets?

August 11th