Every change a company makes, no matter how big or small, to minimize its effect on the environment is great. However, transparency is paramount. If a company isn’t able to build a wind turbine, investing in Renewable Energy Credits (REC) are a great alternative, as it supports those who can invest in renewables. But it crosses into the realm of greenwashing when that company claims to be “100% wind powered.” Instead, just be transparent: “We support renewable energy production by spending a bit more for our electricity by purchasing Renewable Energy Credits.”
To avoid being greenwashed, consumers should watch out for logos on packaging that don’t have anything to do with the product. There are websites where you can buy ready-to-use green logos (“Just insert your company name and you’re green to go!”). Often a company will design their own logo with typical eco-imagery of wind turbines, the Earth, or the sun, and include text touting “produced using renewable energy” or “solar-powered production!” Those sorts of logos often take thinking out of the equation—no need to dig deeper to find out what the company is really doing, it’s got The Logo! But just putting “eco” in front of whatever goods or service you provide does not an environmental steward make.
— USGBC (@USGBC) January 26, 2016
The most credible labels are earned from independent third-party companies that audit and measure claims. They have a set of standards and verify claims, and do not have any business relationships or conflicts of interest with the company being audited. Be on the lookout for the most well-known auditors, like LEED Certification, Energy Star, or Green-e.
We have so many choices these days that it’s easy to be overwhelmed, and our anxieties are compounded with the knowledge that what we purchase today will have an impact on the future. The solution is education and action. Take the time to do your own research on a product before buying it. Remember, money talks.
What’s important is that businesses effectively and clearly communicate their intentions and goals as they pertain to sustainable business practices—that they not engage in smoke-and-mirrors marketing that gives lip service to environmental stewardship instead of truly making a difference by investing in equipment and programs. Since brewers are large consumers of both energy and water, it is imperative that they take action to minimize their use of both. It will not only help the planet, but likely improve their bottom lines as well—a true win-win.
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