I’m a big fan of Seth Godin and his blog about marketing. In fact, his is the only blog I actually subscribe to in this busy life of too much email. His often short and to the point blog posts are very thought provoking and educational for progressive business owners like me. Today he wrote about something that has been irking me for quite some time about something we call “greenwashing” in his blog post The Coming Backlash of Green Marketing. THANK you, Seth!

“The easiest marketing promise to make is to say you’ll do something green if people consume what you sell. That you’ll support one green cause or another. No one is in charge of checking out your story, and my guess is that 90% of the time, it leads to a net negative–more landfill, more carbon, more waste.” Read on…

Those of us who have had environmentally and socially responsible businesses from the start have been seeing this coming. It’s a frequent topic of discussion in the Coop America Green Business Network my company belongs to. We call it Greenwashing. It’s nice to see companies wanting to “do good”, but there are many companies like my own that were actually founded on a model of social and environmental responsibility from the very start because business can’t be just about making money. I personally knew starting my business back in 2003 that I would never be able to sleep at night if my life and business model were solely based on profits, so I built giving back and ethical manufacturing into by business model. I just don’t see the point of doing business without giving back.

Another concern is that in the race to be green, social responsibility often gets put on the back burner. I believe ethical manufacturing and business practice is almost more important than “greening”. Ideally, a company should practice both, and all of the COOP America screened and approved Green Businesses do, but there are many who, as Seth pointed out, simply buy their credibility by outsourcing with an organization that plants trees.

The people who come in my brick and mortar shop every day get it when they walk in and feel the good energy in the place. They sense it when they touch a belt or a necklace and put it on. They even sign the petition on my counter that is to help prevent a Walmart from coming to our beach town. They just get it.
I wish everyone could see the difference between the real deal and the ones who are just jumping on the green bandwagon.