Six Shades of Green
As with any color, green also has different shades. Planet Tracker is “a non-profit financial think tank producing analytics and reports to align capital markets with planetary boundaries.” It recently identified six different shades:
- Green-crowding means that being part of a group can conceal one’s actions and provide a sense of security. However, progress towards sustainability is hindered by the group’s slowest member. For example, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, made up of eight major plastic polluters, failed to meet its recycling targets; having reached only 0.04% of its objectives.
- Green-lighting is when a company highlights a small environmentally friendly aspect of its operations or product in advertising and communications. It’s usually a distraction from harmful environmental practices taking place elsewhere.
- Green-shifting happens when companies place the blame for environmental issues on the consumer, instead of taking responsibility for their own actions.
- Green-labelling is a marketing tactic where a product or service is advertised as environmentally friendly or sustainable. But upon closer inspection, the claims are found to be inaccurate or misleading.
- Green-rinsing applies to a company frequently altering its environmental, social, and governance goals before they being reached.
- Green-hushing is when corporate management teams conceal or downplay their environmental or sustainable practices to avoid scrutiny by investors.
That’s a lot of different shades of green! I wonder if this is like the research on the Organizational Bullshit Scale where all we do is research, study and categorize behaviors instead of creating healthy, sustainable organizations? I hope not.
Is this more taxonomy for green policies or are we actually responsible for taking care of our planet? It’s the only one we share.
Just like with people, we can discern whether a company is walking its talk; is it really eco-friendly or is using toxic and harmful chemicals? Is the color green merely used to make it seem like products are ethically sourced? Is it polluting our environment? And how is it treating its people? Does greed lead or is the focus on people + planet?
Maybe if social media was truly social, and not more advertising and broadcasting platforms, open dialogue exchanges would help us determine whether a company is truly green, or not? And we would support only ones who are aligned with our values.
In an emerging world where there is no judgement, blame or shame, we end the need to call people or organizations out. Instead, we focus on creating what makes sense, which isn’t more of the same.The frequencies have changed and there is no going back. There is opportunity for true innovation.
The path calling us is one where we become more conscious and discerning in the choices we make when it comes to our consumption. Words like organic, eco-friendly, responsible, sustainable and green get thrown around when it comes to fashion and our food. But if Shakespeare was around, would he ask us: To green-wash or not to green-hush? Is that the actual question?