When Is a Product Green?

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Businesses across America are facing increased pressure to go green. To face this challenge, many companies are attempting to find some way to do something green. But what does this actually mean? Is it a good thing? Or does it dilute authentic green innovation? What constitutes "green-washing"? And is green-washing a bad thing? Here are some recent examples I've seen:

Elle magazine in its April green issue made a big deal that it was going green by using 10% recycled paper. What about the other 90%, or the fact that a large percentage of every magazine is thrown out and never sold (I wonder what the folks at INC magazine have to say about that)?

Starbucks stopped double-cupping. It now uses a sleeve made from 100% recycled content, and its cup is made with 10% recycled content. But its paper cup is still not recyclable, which means that billions of cups every year end up in our landfills.

Ford launched a "hybrid SUV" -- a title that almost seems oxymoronic.

Green is definitely a major trend that has captured the American consumer and is now being reflected in the products and services that are coming to market. I'm curious as to what you think. If Coca-Cola makes its bottles with .01% more recycled plastic content, should it call them the "new green bottle"? What if they're made with .1%, 1%, or 10%? Where do you draw the line?

When does a company have to qualify why their are calling themselves green? Is it a sin to greenwash one's brand -- or is any movement to a greener economy a good thing?

Last updated: Apr 15, 2008




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