Greenwashing

As increasing focus is placed on decarbonisation, opportunities have arisen for business growth alongside this, contrasting the general view that decarbonisation will harm all economic activity. Development of new products, services and operations that reduce emissions as well as offering a competitive advantage in the market as a ‘green’ company (Wright and Nyberg, 2015) have recently come to light. For example, in 2009 McDonalds swapped its red and yellow design to a green and yellow logo to promote an eco-friendly image (Dunham, 2009). Such strategies are usually engaged with by businesses when they can “metamorphose environmental concern into business opportunity” (Wright and Nyberg, 2015). Starbucks introduced reusable cups in 2013 in a bid to brand itself as environmentally friendly. However, the company was set to make “millions” (Tice, 2013) from this through repeat business with customers saving 25p on coffee each time they use the cup in store and through the wide advertising provided by the cups being in homes, offices and public spaces (Smithers, 2013).

However, this can create problems surrounding ‘greenwashing’ due to the motive not being purely environmental, but profit-driven instead. ‘Greenwashing’ describes companies spending money on marketing themselves as ‘green’ rather than the strategies that will really reduce their emissions and climate impact (EnviroMedia, 2016). Qantas offers an opportunity where customers can make a donation to offset their flight emissions through funding projects on renewable energies, local action and developing communities. However, Wright and Nyberg (2015) write that this allows the company to fly further and more frequently without tainting its reputation by appearing to be acting against climate change.

In light of this, the world must be aware of potential ‘greenwashing’ occurring in business strategies so real action can be put in place to effectively halt further climate change.

 

References:

Dunham, M. (2009, November 23). McDonald’s rolling out green logo in Europe. Retrieved October 4, 2016, from Food Inc., http://www.nbcnews.com/id/34111784/ns/business-us_business/t/mcdonalds-rolling-out-green-logo-europe/#.WCR_zqOcZ0s

EnviroMedia Social Marketing. (2016). About Greenwashing. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from http://greenwashingindex.com/about-greenwashing/

Smithers, R. (2013, April 19). Starbucks introduces reusable cups. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/apr/19/starbucks-coffee-resuable-cups

Tice, C. (2013, January 17). How Starbucks will make Millions off its new, reusable cup. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/caroltice/2013/01/17/how-starbucks-will-make-millions-off-its-new-reusable-cup/#695be4d63cc1

Wright, C. and Nyberg, D. (2015) Climate Change, Capitalism, and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Featured Image:   Cargill, L. (2013, May 24). Is greenwashing better than “green-nothing”? Retrieved November 4, 2016, from Green Companies, http://thegreenhome.co.uk/work-business/green-companies/is-greenwashing-better-than-green-nothing/

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