Heck Yeah, Verizon, On Dropping the Greenwashing

verizon-wirelessShout out to Verizon for (finally) removing its green e-billing claims from its website. It seems they can hear us now after all.

Verizon can finally hear us now.

After a three-year letter writing campaign from Two Sides, the telecommunications company has at last gotten the message that their “save paper, save the earth” message is misleading and inaccurate.

“Over the past three years Two Sides has been writing letters to Verizon encouraging them to change inaccurate and unsubstantiated environmental messaging used to promote electronic services over print and paper,” writes Phil Riebel from Two Sides.

“So it was great to see that Verizon made major changes to their website recently, removing each of the questionable green claims we had pointed out,” Riebel continues.  “We hope this change in messaging will also spread to other channels, especially printed materials, and that Verizon will use the messaging reset to consider the sustainable features of print and paper.”

Instead of their previous “Go Green with Paperless Billing,” the Verizon site now encourages users to “Forget the mailbox, just check your phone.”

It’s progressing, for sure, and Verizon joins more than 165 major corporations around the world that have turned away from their greenwashing messages to a more accurate “consumer choice” model. (And we’re all about consumer choice, as long as it’s based on good information.)

Consumers are becoming more aware of the massive carbon footprint of digital and the environmental benefits of a sustainable paper industry, both of which lead to a huge consumer mistrust of these greenwashing claims.

Riebel explains, “Our request is simple: remove or modify unsubstantiated claims that electronic communications are always “greener” than print and paper.”

If your company still makes these “save paper” claims — even in light of the FTC warning companies to stop misleading their customers — Two Sides offers some great recommendations:

  1. Follow marketing rules and best practices (ex: U.S. FTC Green Guides) that require claims to be substantiated, specific and science-based.
  2. Consider the sustainable features of print and paper, both environmental and social.
  3. Understand that electronic communication has many impacts and is not necessarily greener.
  4. Consider that many people (especially seniors) have no Internet access and rely on a paper copy – my parents being among those!
  5. Consider that many people prefer a paper copy as a reminder and for archiving, and will often print e-statements at home or in the office.
  6. Consider that many customers rely on the graphic communications industry for their livelihood (over 8 million people depend on the print, paper and mail value chain in the U.S. alone!) – I imagine that includes a few Verizon customers!