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Out of Our Minds
Wednesday, April 07, 2004 9:51 AM
How Much Is Enough?
Kevin Salwen on Ethics

We've had debates over the past few weeks on this question: When should a company be able to take credit for environmental stewardship, especially when it's in a polluting industry? The matter arose over the ads that Shell and BP often run about their stewardship of the environment. The themes -- open seas, beautiful landscapes, crunchy-looking environmentally conscious employees -- reflect the companies' desires to show that they are right in touch with the public's desires for cleaner communities. But is it just 'greenwash,' as many contend, as the environmentally hazardous work continues? I guess what I'm wondering is where is the line? Is it like the old definition of pornography -- we know it when we see it?


Bert - 4/8/2004 11:38:28 PM
My particular corp to bash in this regard is GE. The shameless propaganda campaign they waged for years over the pcb pollution of the upper Hudson river should make Jack Welch the poster boy of this issue.

What preturbed me even more was their TV ads touting their program to foster science and future scientists in high schools, while suing the local school district to lower their tax burden. Winning their suit with a huge team of high paid lawyers, they robbed those same students and countless others of literally millions of dollars annually.
Evelyn Rodriguez - 4/8/2004 1:41:18 PM
Brent said it all: Actions are more important than words. I think people have more access to information sources beyond ads and can determine for themselves what is greenwash and what is real. I respect a company much, much LESS that attempts to solely change their brand cosmetically without changing themselves -- their products/services, their relationships and processes -- first. Authenticity, not superficiality, wins customer's hearts.
Curt Rosengren - 4/7/2004 9:07:15 PM
My inner cynic just keeps sitting here and wondering how the amount of money these companies put into environmental programs stacks up against the amount of money they spend touting their environmental friendliness.
Brent P. Newhall - 4/7/2004 11:55:12 AM
Actions are more important than words.

If the ads refer to genuine action on the part of the company -- 'Shell spent 10% of its annual budget on environmental projects, including...', I'll be a lot more inclined to believe that they're committed to the environment than an ad which reads, 'Shell is committed to the environment. Really. We are. We care. See? Isn't this a nice beach? Please believe us!'


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