Concerns about Green Marketing

I listened to a very interesting segment on NPR's Science Friday last week about efforts to produce environmentally-friendly packaging. It was pointed out that in some cases attempts at green marketing may have unintended consequences. For example, a container for a television that uses less materials but does not adequately protect the product could lead to damaged goods that would not only create costs to repair, but it is possible that products would have to be disposed, thus creating waste when the idea was to save natural resources.

Another point raised about green marketing is that environmental policy that affects business is often politically driven, not scientifically driven. The case of ethanol as an alternative fuel for automobiles was cited as an example. Uncertainties exist about how widespread adoption of ethanol as a fuel might impact the food supply (specifically foods whose production relies on corn), but some policy makers are promoting ethanol as the alternative fuel. In addition to concerns about how much corn would be needed to produce enough ethanol to meet our fuel demands, ethanol is a less efficient fuel than gasolinein terms of energy production. Such limitations have not stopped some lawmakers from jumping on the ethanol bandwagon (or would that be a harvester?).

The importance of conducting business in a way that protects the environment cannot be overstated. It's more than just the basis for an advertising campaign; everyone benefits when we use our natural resources responsibly. The temptation that must be avoided is practicing green marketing simply for the sake of being able to say "we're green!" It must be driven by the aim of being a good steward of the environment, which can also lead to a potential side benefit of a competitive advantage.