May 26, 2010 Leave a comment
I recently came across an interesting article by Jennifer Rice
While I appreciate Rice’s perspective, I cannot help but question these companies who produce so-called “green” products. Are they truly committed to sustainability? Do they have a corporate sustainability program? As a consumer, I believe I have a responsibility to learn about a company’s sustainable policies and to read their sustainability report before I decide to purchase their products – whether they brand it as “green” or not.
Anyone with a basic understanding of humanity and business, knows that the market influx of green products is not necessarily coming from companies who genuinely believe in sustainability. When did we start hearing about the availability of green products? It was when consumers became aware and active. They began to claim their individual responsibilities to preserve the planet for future generations – and it didn’t take long for companies to catch on to this trend. Soon, shelves were lines with “green” products and companies were reaping the benefits of this new and lucrative marketing opportunity.
The time has come for companies to realize that “sustainability” is not just a sales or marketing phenomenon. Rather, sustainability is the overall approach of company’s operations toward a sustainable planet. Any company can produce a “green” product by employing child laborers in China or by dismissing environmental ethics – but is this acceptable? Will we continue to support companies which profit from the production of green products through unsustainable operations? I strongly believe that without a sustainable strategy adopted and monitored within a company’s operations (local or global), green products are a myth. This myth does more harm than good to the company’s brand by misleading consumers. Eventually, these companies will be exposed – consider Nestle and BP.
No matter what a company produces or how they operate, sustainability should be part of the company’s culture and functionality before they start producing green products. Green products have two essential attributes:
1) Is the product produced as a result of sustainable operations by a company which is committed to sustainability?
2) Will its usage or consumption contribute to a sustainable planet?
Without the former, the latter is meaningless. Consumers are becoming aware of both attributes and how to differentiate between them before making their purchasing choices. What matters foremost to sustainability is the company’s business ethics and their transparent commitment towards sustainable operations. Jennifer Rice’s blog article is interesting and helpful, but it is not the whole story. Companies who simply produce a “green” product are not enough. As consumers, we have a responsibility to do our research: are these companies truly committed to sustainability? If not, we must stop succumbing to their marketing schemes. Only then, will we begin to see our planet shift toward the reality of a sustainable future.