We’ve all heard of greenwashing - everyone from consumers and
Client Earth to the Advertising Standards Authority and the CMA are hot on its
heels. Even keeping track of all the ways you can balls up is getting
harder – there’s a smorgasbord of greenwashing. A report by Planet
Tracker earlier this year identified six types of greenwashing, but we believe
it’s even broader than that.
We have greenlighting - that’s where a company says ‘hey look at this shiny green thing over here’, drawing attention away from stuff that is less great going on over there.
Greenlabelling - an obvious one - the labelling of products that make things look better for the environment than they are. It’s the classic ’let’s stick a big green leaf on it’ approach.
Greenshifting - where blame or focus is shimmied on over to a different group – “it’s not the product, it’s how people choose to use it.” This isn’t new - the textbook example is The Crying Indian advert in 1970’s America.
Some say greenrinsing, we say greenjiggling - this is where organisation’s ambitions get jiggy with it and are constantly on the move - getting regularly pushed back as they fail to meet them.
At the other end of the spectrum we’re seeing increasing amounts of greenhushing. This is where organisations might be doing good things but are keeping schtum on targets for fear of being harpooned if they don’t achieve them.
And, recently, we had Ptilia Clark - editor at the FT - with her adroit additional label of green botching. That’s where the ambition is great, but we channel BlackAdder’s Baldrick in how we go about making it real.
It’s a minefield.
It’s a journey and this is the biggest issue we’ve ever faced as a species - and we’ve done some pretty big stuff. This is complex and hard and no organisation has every answer. Acknowledging that is vital. Yes it’s a minefield - and one that is always getting hairier and more urgent - but there are ways to be better, get ambitious or stay ambitious - and get across that minefield in one piece. Through the immortal wailings of Kate Bush - don’t give up.
If you want to talk to us about the ways in which we’re helping clients push ambitions, measure actions and talk about those in a way that’s honest and compelling, get in touch.