PRSSA conference in the D and greenwashing
This past weekend, me and seven other PRSSA Kent officers attended the PRSSA national conference in America’s Motor City. Between taking notes at sessions and dodging the other 900-some students, I took notice of the little green efforts.
- Save the planet sign inside my hotel room telling me only towels on the floor would be washed in attempt to save water.
- Ecotainer cups at breakfast. The cups were biodegradable and compostable.
- During the PRSSA sessions, GM gave us the opportunity to test drive a hybrid Escalade or Saturn Vue.
I was the only Kent officer to notice these minute green pushes. Although the hotel wanted its guests to save water, they didn’t recycle. I guess they wanted to sport the green label without any extra effort. And this got me thinking about greenwashing and green posers.
Greenwash with Swiffer
Jennifer Fehrenbacher, contributor to Inhabitat blog, wrote an excellent eye-opening post questioning Swiffer designer’s Businessweek editorial promoting Swiffer as a green product. Gianfranco Zaccai’s claim is that cleaning the floor with a mop and bucket is:
“a messy and unpleasant job that uses many gallons of water and great amounts of detergent…the water, the energy needed to heat that water and the environmental impact of dumping the detergent into the waste system are terribly costly…”
Fehrenbacher cleverly shoots back saying:
“…the Swiffer is a plastic contraption designed to replace the good old fashion mop. It is sold with a box of dispoable, plastic-wrapped, chemical-soaked pieces of paper that go straight from your floor to the landfill, where the chemicals leach into the ground.”
I’m with Fehrenbacher. Nothing designed to be convenient and disposable is designed with the earth in mind. Disposable means waste. And I don’t know about you, but I surely don’t use gallons beyond gallons of water to mop. Swiffer is a green poser. The bottom line here is to realize consumers will see through false claims.
Tip for future PR practitioners: Don’t make your client out to be something it’s not. It’ll damage crediblilty and image. I had no problem with Swiffer until now. I realize everyone wants a piece of the green pie but don’t stretch the truth. It’s really tacky.