Home Depot is on the offensive this season, selling off its Supply Unit last week, and launching Eco Options, its first green marketing campaign, in April. Yesterday, the Times took a look at selection process for the green program, and the ongoing task of developing sustainability standards. Although there are a variety of indices and metrics, there are still no comprehensive, credible standards of the likes of Fair Trade for organic products and LEED for green buildings.
This lack of cohesion became something of a problem when more than 60,000 products applied to be part of Eco Options. Ron Jarvis, who oversees the Eco Options program described varying, sometimes contradicting claims of sustainability, like wood-handled paintbrush companies who tout their better for the environment because they're not made of plastic and plastic-handled paintbrushes claiming exactly the opposite. Jarvis was finally able to whittle the list down to 2,500 products, but he'd like to eventually include 6,000. (TerraCycle and Method, both covered in Inc., made the cut.)
What remains to be seen, however, is whether Home Depot is actually committed to promoting environmentally sustainable practices, or if the home improvement giant is merely jumping on the green bandwagon to boost sales--products in the program have experienced a 10 percent increase in sales since April. As the Times points out, green has become such a hip, widely used label, "that many environmental groups, while lauding the heightened interest of consumers, now dismiss many of the efforts as greenwash."
Garvin Jabusch, a partner at Green Alfa Advisers, which directs investors on how to invest in a sustainable economy told the paper, "If they really wanted to promote sustainability, they would discontinue their products with the least green attributes. Manufacturers would stop making them on the spot." It's a compelling idea, one Al Gore would surely applaud, but one wonders how viable it really is. Would Wal Mart and Lowe's discontinue such products as well? Would consumers support the decision? How do you think Home Depot should go about turning its marquee color from orange to green?