Being accused of Greenwashing strikes fear into the hearts of many eco-conscious (at some not so eco-conscious) marketers around the world.  And that is probably good–to a point.

Seth Bauer, in a presentation at the Sustainable Brands 09 conference (via Triple Pundit) argues that with so much focus in the media on exposing misleading or exaggerated green claims, many companies are discouraged from pursuing legitimate, green product innovation. And for those who do, many remain silent for fear of the dreaded greenwashing label.

Greenmuting:  The Silent Innovation Killer?

So is “Greenmuting” really stifling some legit Green innovation?  A recent study by Terrachoice from their 2009 Greenwashing report (listed below) shows that the number of Green product claims by companies is, in fact, rising pretty fast…so it is hard to tell if Greenmuting has slowed what otherwise would have been a steeper rise in innovation & claims.  Unfortunately, I didn’t see Seth’s presentation.  Most likely he has more data on Greenmuting to share that I have not seen.

Seth goes on to state:  “no matter how credible, clear and consistent your message, someone can always find a flaw in your marketing claims…(brand managers should) continue to innovate and continue to develop green marketing messages. But by learning the common greenwashing traps, and by understanding there is no perfect green product, you can learn to “greenwash better” making your messaging as credible as possible”.

So, to become a “better greenwasher,” Seth proposes some tips like educating your customers (better) on environmental benefits.  Go over to the Triple Pundit article for more details & tips from Seth.

Personally, I think that no one should aspire to Greenwashing, and that every effort should be made to avoid the 7 Deadly Sins.  If there are legit claims that can be made around favorable green product innovation, however, marketers should go ahead and press forward (as Seth points out).

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