9 Tips on How to Greenwash Your Company
It’s no secret that green eco-products sell better and often achieve higher margins. But the road to authentically sustainable products is often long and requires analysis, strategies, and a bullet-proof implementation roadmap. That’s tough….which is why we have considered what companies can do immediately to appear greener without actually doing very much. You’re welcome.
1. It’s all about marketing
Perception trumps reality. Make sure that you spend more money on marketing your sustainability initiatives than on the cost of the initiative itself. People don’t care about the truth, they only remember how you made them feel.
2. Tell narratives, not facts
Hello boomer! There is way too much information out there already, and nobody believes facts anyway. Besides, others are likely to contradict your facts with their own alternative facts. Do you really want to have that discussion? Rather: share selective insights into your company’s “sustainability transformation”, and embellish them with personal anecdotes – strategy documents and KPIs put everyone to sleep….
3. Use hyperboles – make it sound bombastic
You need to get the attention of consumers, and you have many words to choose from: “climate-neutral”, “greenest”, “industry-leader” and “groundbreaking”. Now don’t forget that some terms are legally defined, so you may end up having to justify yourself in front of regulators. But these things take years to resolve, with the only downside being that you may have to change your advertisement or pay a small fine (that you can finance with the profits you made in the meantime). Don’t worry about the consumer backlash, this is something your PR team can handle.
4. Blame the consumer
Nobody actually understands what you do and the contribution you are making to society and the planet. So just make sure that you keep explaining to everybody that criticizes you why they are wrong. Or, at best, simply ignore them and blame the consumer for demanding your products. They need to change, not you.
5. Focus on the long term
Fake it till you make it! Don’t be timid and announce a short-term goal, go straight for the big hairy audacious goal in 2050. By then you will be retired and no one will remember what you said. With an ambitious, long-term target, you will seem like a true trailblazer and have something to tell your friends for years to come. Others can deal with the hard work of implementing the target, and you are freed of any short-term accountability.
6. Don’t include all emissions
If you have a long upstream or downstream chain of value creation, then you only need to worry about your direct emissions, the rest is not your problem. So only calculate scope 1 and scope 2 emissions and forget the rest!
7. Offset, don’t reduce
Once you have calculated your emissions, don’t reduce them, but rather offset them with cheap carbon credits. Nobody knows what high-quality offsets are anyway, and this is much cheaper than changing your business model.
8. Technologies of the future
Building on the above – don’t reduce, but promise to neutralize your historical emissions in the future with technologies that are not yet ready for the market. This shows courage to innovate and takes the short-term pressure off your shoulders.
9. “Involve” staff
You have repeatedly said that your staff is your most important asset. So set up a highly publicized “green team” and have them discuss some marginal sustainability issues, not the core business model. For example, how the company can make it easier for employees to recycle paper, or that there is enough bicycle parking. Have them use the company intranet to promote their activities, put reminder posters on the toilet to turn off the lights, and give them a small budget to hold a sustainability event on Earth Day. On that day, make sure everyone gets a reusable coffee mug with your company logo in green, so everyone knows that you are putting your money where your mouth is.
Does something feel wrong with this article? Happy April Fools!
If you want to go beyond greenwashing and are sincerely interested in becoming a more sustainable company, get in touch with our Head of Climate Philip Reuchlin . Just send a quick mail to email@example.com.
Head of Climate