Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How Green is Your Valley?

The FTC is updating its Green Marketing guidelines, focusing on unsubstantiated environmentally friendly claims, or what it calls ‘Greenwashing’. High time, I would think. I am not exactly a grass-green citizen, but yeah, I do my part of cloth bag carrying [ok, I do like the Trader Joe’s raffles as well] and hop into the ever-adventurous SF buses on a regular basis. But I have to admit, when I see the ‘Green’ message pop up from the time I use Webex [the claim is they reduce air-travel by making folks collaborate via Webex instead] to my latest ‘Green’ Febreeze, I want to stop and think about what is the real definition of Green here. Not to mention the guilt-industry that spawns off—case in point, British Airways [after you book your flight of course] pops up a message asking you to offset this transcontinental flight carbon footprint by planting Olive trees somewhere. Do I know where? Nope.

I might be one of the few hit by ‘Green’ Exhaustion, but yes, define what Green is before making claims. I wouldn’t think its an easy job for the FTC though---what Green is for a company like Zipcar is very different from what Green is for Trader Joe’s or Merry Maids. I would think it should be a culture within the company that consciously calls itself ‘Green’, to prevent dreaded backlash from the pro-Green consumers. It cannot be just ‘Green’ness in how they create the product. What does ‘Green’ mean to you? How important is that label to what you purchase?