Firms that want to prevent customers frustration over green claims that can be misconstrued as “greenwashing” should develop a framework that incorporates more effective communication that aligns with the true impacts of their environmental initiatives, according to a new report.
BSR has released a guide that it says will help businesses curtail greenwashing and build the trust of their customers because people who care about the environment will not buy products from a company they believe is greenwashing.
The new report, “Understanding and Preventing Greenwash: A Business Guide,” co-authored with Futerra Sustainability Communications, helps companies understand where they fall in this “greenwash matrix,” and to help them better communicate their environmental message that is based on a company’s true sustainability practices and/or products.
The report cites several questions that companies need to ask themselves to evaluate the impact, alignment and communications of their environmental messages. These include:
- Is the issue material to the business?
- Has the company already achieved the results in its claim?
- Did the company’s initiative include multiple departments within the organization?
- Are other activities in the company consistent with the message?
- Did the company engage with stakeholders and incorporate their feedback?
- Does the company have the data to back up its claim?
- Is it easy for people to understand the company’s claim and its significance?
Companies can no longer simply say “we’re green,” they need to ensure that they are achieving significant impact and accurately communicating to gain the trust of their customers as they become more educated about the environmental impacts of products, according to the report.
The federal government is taking an ever-leery eye toward environmental claims.
In early August, the Federal Trade Commission accused four companies selling clothing marketed as made from bamboo with deceptive advertising and marketing claims.
In June, FTC charged Kmart Corp., Tender Corp., and Dyna-E International with making false and unsubstantiated claims that their paper products were “biodegradable.”