Today an opinion piece guest post by : Evelyn Robinson
I hope you enjoy this rather more than my usual posts, and if so don't forget to comment at the bottom of the page !
Let the World Know that you Care about Sustainability
To remain green should always be done primarily for altruistic reasons rather than to increase profitability but that is not to say that there is anything wrong with a business spreading the news of its concern for sustainability in order to boost its public image. The problem is that some companies lack the know-how to do this effectively, meaning that their good work can often go unrecognised. Communicating sustainability credentials can often be fraught with pitfalls so here is a quick guide to doing it as successfully as possible.
Always Be Open
Companies can sometimes be apprehensive about saying that they are striving to meet a sustainability target for fear of failing to reach it. The solution to this is to do away with this fear and own up when your business falls short of its expectations. Explain why this failure has occurred and detail what you are planning on doing in order to try and change the situation and nobody will be able to accuse you of shirking your responsibilities.
|Sometimes being sustainable involves real work !|
Nowadays consumers are more equipped than ever to investigate the accuracy of your claims so ensure that you always tell the truth. In 2008, an article in The Telegraph revealed that the Innocent Smoothies company had misled the public about its environmental credentials. It had claimed that its fruit was always transported by boat or train because these methods expend less fossil fuel than road or air transport per kilogram of fruit when in reality the drink was blended in mainland Europe and driven hundreds of miles to the UK in dozens of lorries. This sparked widespread criticism of the company and undoubtedly harmed its image.
Don't Be Tempted to Exaggerate
Companies that try their best to reduce their carbon emissions should say that they are trying their best to reduce their carbon emissions; they should not say that they are single-handedly reversing the greenhouse effect or saving the world from imminent destruction. Similarly, green gas suppliers should say that they are doing exactly what their name suggests and supplying green gas; they need not claim that they are miraculously patching up the damage to the ozone layer or reversing climate change because the work that they are doing is good enough as it is without the need for over-exaggeration.
Listen to the Public
Your customers have concerns, opinions and ideas about green issues that are itching to be heard. Incorporating these concerns into the message that you communicate about sustainability will have the added bonus of letting the public know that their voice is being heard and demonstrate that you are a company that cares.
Know When Not to Sell a Product Based on Sustainability
Sometimes there is no need to let people know the social impact of a product. Divine Chocolate initially focussed upon all of the good that the brand was doing in the world but soon found out that this did not aid its sales and had to have a rethink. The brains behind the company came to the conclusion that consumers were more concerned with what this product looked like than they were about how it was produced so they decided to repackage it as a luxury product. It now sits comfortably alongside the likes of Nestle and Cadburys on supermarket shelves across the country.
Take Care When Choosing Certification
If you have decided to gain certification for your company then ensure that you are certified by a credible source. Concentrate upon what is relevant to your customers and do not include too many labels on your product, as this might confuse potential buyers.
Meet the Public's Expectations
People are expecting more and more of companies with regards to sustainability so communicating about saving energy and achieving waste targets will no longer cut it. The public need proof that you are helping them to be greener rather than vague statements that you are endeavouring to run an environmentally sound business. This can be achieved through conveying facts and figures and expressing how much money you have spent on sustainability. Remember: your customers aren’t stupid. They will see through wishy-washy statements that are not backed up by fact within the blink of an eye.