Sustainability | March 2010 | By Robin Van Tan

How Going Green Can Hurt Your Business

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How Going Green Can Hurt Your Business
image used with permission.

Brands without an environmental expert on hand who can proofread statements can seek out the assistance of a third-party organization such as the GRA to take out some of the guesswork.

“That’s great if you happen to have a restaurateur who’s also a scientist,” Oshman says. “Our experience over 20 years of working with restaurateurs is they’re busy. Even if they have an aptitude in that direction, even if you have a restaurateur who gets excited about those details, they generally don’t have the time [to become experts].”

That’s where the GRA comes in.

“Most of the restaurants that bring us into the process from the beginning know they’re going to end up with the right products at the end,” Oshman says. “We’re not the manufacturer, we’re not the distributor … we’re a nonprofit that’s vetted these products.”

Being a certified restaurant can help when dealing with the tricky issue of marketing, too.

“The restaurant’s not saying how great they are,” Oshman says. “We’re saying how great they are.”

But some green restaurant certification programs can be greenwashing in and of themselves.

“You can go online and pay $30 or $40 and get a nice sticker saying how green your business is,” Oshman says. “It’s really important who restaurants partner with.”

When promoting green efforts, Elmore also recommends educating the employees who interact with customers so they don’t provide misleading information.

“Make sure your line people understand what you’ve done,” she says. “Let them be your broadcaster.”

Other promotional options include table tents or signs that explain how exactly the company is working toward greener goals. But Elmore warns it’s essential to use recycled-content paper.

“You’ve got to be careful with printing,” she says. “When you print things and it’s for people to take, that’s not exactly green.”

For restaurants that care about sustainability, it’s yet another roadblock to watch out for. But as difficult as the entire process might be, “Why bother?” is no longer an option.

“I see environmental safety becoming as important as food safety,” Case says. “At some point, consumers are just going to assume that restaurants are engaged in environmental practices. They’re going to assume the napkins contain recycled content, or they’re going to assume you’re doing your best to get rid of excess waste. … It will come as a shock to people to find out you’re not doing that.”

And that shock can be every bit as disappointing to customers as finding out the truth about claims that are just greenwashing.

How Going Green Can Hurt Your Business

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Comments

Terrachoice manages the EcoLogo green label that is on thousands of products. Thing is even EcoLogo certified products commit greenwashing sins. Therefore, Terrachoice needs to protect consumers from Terrachoice! How hypocritical of them to point the finger at other companies when they are fraudulent themselves? In the end, what we have learned is to never trust a marketing company that manages a green ecolabel. Terrachoice is promoting one of the biggest greenwashing marketing campaign and tricking consumers to buy into EcoLogo, a greenwashing label that brings millions of dollars to Terrachoice. Shame on Terrachoice! Fraud

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