When you buy green products, you’re supporting companies that use sustainable resources, minimize their environmental footprint, and don’t produce chemicals that can be harmful to the environment. Many green products are also made from materials that can be recycled, helping reduce waste and conserve natural resources. This trend has helped to attract new consumers, resulting in a booming market for eco-friendly products.
While there are a wide range of green products available, not all of them have the same benefits. In addition, some green products are more expensive than traditional alternatives, but they often save money in the long run because they last longer or use less energy.
Many people define green products as those that have minimal impact on the environment throughout their life-cycle and even after they’re no longer in use. This definition is broad and may include products that are recycled or reusable, as well as those made with renewable or organic materials. However, this is only one way to measure the ecological sustainability of a product. A more accurate and comprehensive approach is to consider the product’s life-cycle impacts, including raw material production, processing, transportation, and disposal. This type of evaluation is known as life-cycle assessment (LCA).
In a global economy, most businesses realize that they have environmental impacts, and most of them want to improve these impacts in some way. Some go so far as to publish an environmental impact statement with their annual report, which is a step in the right direction. However, many companies go too far and confuse their environmental communications with greenwashing.
Some examples of the latter are using a green logo or green shade on a company website without incorporating any real environmental analysis or testing. Similarly, they may tout the fact that a product has green packaging, but this is only because the original packaging was made from primary plastic and the current packaging uses recycled polymers. Choosing the correct benchmarks is a difficult task, but it’s important to do so because virtually all products and services have some environmental impacts.
A more accurate and defensible approach to corporate environmental sustainability is embracing net green activities. This means that the goal is not just to sell more environmentally friendly products, but to lower overall business-related environmental impacts. This requires more complex thinking, but it’s a far better alternative to attempting to avoid the criticism of greenwashing and focusing only on the sales of green products.
Moreover, it’s also a lot more fun! For example, the apparel company Patagonia understands this concept. On Black Friday in 2011, the company ran a full-page advertisement asking its customers not to purchase its fleece jackets because manufacturing the jackets was bad for the environment. This is a more honest and credible approach to reducing corporate environmental impacts than the usual gimmicks that are typically used by the clothing industry in their advertising campaigns. The best way to reduce a company’s environmental impacts is not to manufacture and sell products, but rather to stop producing them altogether.