CSR course: MSU High School of Business student's blog on the topic of greenwashing

We are happy to announce our newly introduced series of blog-posts from our students of MSU High School of Business. The blogs will be written by students in the third year of Bachelor degree studying the CSR course which is held by executive director of the foundation Tatiana Zadirako.

This brings us to read the article:

I’ve recently read an article from Business News Daily on Greenwashing. Generally speaking, this article is aimed at business owners who want to ensure that their company is sustainable and use this correctly in marketing, as it became clear from the article that there is a fine line between greenwashing and green marketing.

The first sentence immediately states the purpose of the article - to make business owners ensure that their company isn't damaging customers' trust by greenwashing. The article begins by explaining the term 'greenwashing'. According to what is written, greenwashing is when an organization spends more time and money marketing itself as environmentally friendly than actually minimizing its impact on the environment. Basically, it is a deceptive marketing trick that misleads consumers who prefer to buy goods and services from environmentally conscious brands. After the explanation, we are told how greenwashing, apart from its empty environmental value, harms brand reputation.

Accordingly, the narrative is reinforced with important examples from the business environment, for example, one Alliance Against Plastic Waste (AEPW), backed by major oil and chemical companies such as Shell, ExxonMobil and Dow, claimed to have spent $1.5 billion on cleaning up plastic waste in developing countries, but as it turns out, not only did the alliance not clean up the Ganges River in India as previously claimed, it put forward a plan to produce even more plastic. In other words, good intentions have been turned into another PR campaign. The article also states that marketers are actively taking advantage of eco-trends because according to research cited in the text, people agree to pay MORE money for a product or service if it is conducted by a sustainable brand.

However, people have had enough of such marketing lies, so more than half of US consumers DO NOT believe companies' environmental claims, citing research from GreenPrint. This an amount of argument, backed up by solid data, is staggering. The article then led us smoothly to the very purpose of writing it - how to avoid greenwashing. Here the author gives us a whole list of tips. It is short and very clear, which is very good. It says not to use different fluffy words, which directly mean "eco-friendly" or "natural", evocative pictures, e.g. flowers blooming out of exhaust pipes, or designations that are just not credible, e.g. eco-cigarettes or eco-potatoes (which should be eco anyway) and other advice. One of the most important pieces of advice for companies is to train their marketers in green branding ethics. To be honest, I didn't even know about this term before reading the article, and my "world" kind of turned upside down after I realized that, indeed, a trained green marketer would essentially be a savior for a company that seeks to avoid greenwashing, provided of course that it itself responsibly and conscientiously adheres to CSR requirements.

Further on in the article the author again reminds us that consumers will turn away from even the biggest brand with a long history if they suspect it of lying, thus confirming the importance of the issue raised in the article. Then the criteria for green marketing are listed. Such a product must not contain toxic materials or ozone-depleting substances, be produced using slave labor or workers who are unfairly paid, use excessive packaging, and be recyclable or made from recycled materials, as an option. The article then moves to its logical conclusion, raising a not insignificant issue. So, last but not least - transparency and corporate social responsibility. The point they want to make to us is that it is transparency that can bridge the gap between artificial and genuine concern for the environment. So, next is Patagonia’s case. As the article says, unlike most companies, Patagonia doesn’t sugarcoat its use of chemicals or the fact that it leaves a footprint. The company's sustainability mission is described as "the struggle to become a responsible company." It is also important that the company does not consider itself a model of a responsible company, but through its example it shows how it acts in accordance with environmental and social responsibility. It's really cool to state that "we're not perfect, but we strive," I began to respect Patagonia after learning more about it through the article.

Well, the article ends with a call for your company to become truly sustainable as well and subsequently, like Patagonia, share its sustainability story without false marketing like greenwashing. And I want to end my analysis of the article with the line with which the article itself concludes, as I believe it extremely reinforces the effect of everything I have read. "Greenwashing is a dirty practice, and we all know how costly a trip to the cleaners can be."

Source: BND. URL: https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10946-greenwashing.html

This young generation has a great potential. We have no doubts that you enjoyed reading this post as much as we did. Actually, we looked to refresh our knowledge in this field.

We would like to thank Marina Martynova for such a wonderful work.

Stay tuned. There are more blogs to come.

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