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Green Business: Fake It Till You Make It Green

January 3rd, 2013 | Posted by Claire Sommer in Green Business | Green Shift

Greenwashing is good.

Hunter Lovins said that? Hunter Lovins, as in Natural Capitalist Solutions Lovins?

Yes. And she also said this.

Via marketplace.org:

Greenwashing is a Gateway Drug

[O]nce you hold yourself up as ‘green(er)’, increased scrutiny follows. Plus, no one likes to be a hypocrite. Once you say you’re doing it, there’s a tendency to start doing it. In GE’s case, Lovins points out that once GE saw their ‘eco’ products had twice the sales volume of the regular products, “all of a sudden a company without a green bone in its body has one–attached to its wallet.”

Lying as a specific approach? Encouraging superficial actions? Took me a minute to come around. But then I got it.

You don’t throw a non-dancer into the swing of things. You dance with them a little bit at the edge. Let them see how good is.

Get their feet moving. Confidence up.

Before they know it, their friends are watching. Maybe admiringly.

And suddenly they’re dancing. Next thing you know they’ve enrolled in a tango class.

They’re hooked but good.

Classic case of fake it till you make it.

This came to mind when I read that a majority of Fortune 500 companies reported on their sustainability programs, actions and results in 2011. More than doubled from 2010.

Via triplepundit.com:

Record Number of U.S. Companies Issuing Sustainability Reports

G&A Institute states that 53 percent of the 500 companies indexed by Standard and Poor’s issued sustainability reports in 2011, a drastic increase from 2010, when only around 19 percent of the companies reported.

Moreover, this report found that companies that issued sustainability reports enjoyed higher financial returns than their non-reporting competitors.

Does this mean that all these companies have good sustainability metrics? Is there a healthy amount of greenwashing going on? Do the numbers lack context? Are they disconnected from the company’s material pursuits?

Sure. But who cares. They’re in it.

For those who are already on the people-planet-profits bandwagon, these numbers show momentum.

For those new to the party, still mired in short-term shareholder value thinking, this shows a business case.

So I’m seeing the wisdom of bringing everyone to the sustainability conversation. Most of all the skeptics, wallflowers, and foot starers.

Hear that music?

Let’s dance.

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