Environmental Marketing Guidelines Making a Big Dent in Greenwashing

Like this article? Go ahead and print it out. U.S. paper companies plant far more trees than they harvest, and today in the U.S. there are 12 million more acres of forest than 20 years ago. Paper is renewable and recyclable.

Refreshing, isn’t it? When we understand the reality of the modern paper industry and its impact on the environment, the greenwashing claims of the past several years just ring flat.

And now, more companies than ever are getting the message, and dropping their claims that “going paperless” equates to “going green.” In fact, it’s quite the opposite when you consider the carbon footprint of electronic communications.

Two Sides, the global initiative to promote the sustainability of print and paper, reports a 61% success rate in removing misleading environmental claims made by some of the world’s largest corporations as they seek to replace paper-based communications with lower cost electronic alternatives.

“Two Sides research into more than 600 of the world’s leading corporations, including banks, utilities, telecoms and insurance providers, has shown that a total of 460 of those companies have been using misleading and unsubstantiated environmental statements, despite specific advertising legislation to protect consumers in many countries,” notes this post from Two Sides NA. “To date, 278 of those companies have removed such statements as a result of ongoing engagement by Two Sides.”

That’s great news for the paper industry, and also for consumers, who have been largely skeptical of the anti-paper claims. In reality, it’s cheaper for companies to push paperless billing and the like – consumers get this, and the claims of environmental impact have fallen flat.

We applaud growing environmental awareness and support the paper industry’s ongoing efforts to create more sustainable paper mills and paper products.  We celebrate the millions of acres of new forestland in the U.S. We salute digital companies that are working to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint too.

We also salute the companies who are removing their greenwashing claims, whether out of a growing awareness of the facts or simply complying with the FTC warnings against them.

Lastly, we thank Two Sides for making sure we are looking at the facts instead of grabbing onto easy, feel-good answers.