Greenwashing is better for business than real sustainability efforts
Greenwashing is stupid and obnoxious. “Oh, we loovve the environment. We have 1) made our bottle green and 2) printed instructions on our boxes about how to put a can in a recycling bin!” Thank you, company! That is helpful and now I would like to give you money.
And now the punchline: Greenwashing is actually more helpful for businesses than sustainable practices. FromEnvironmentalLeader.com:
The authors found symbolic actions have a higher impact on market value than substantive actions, when the company has higher [corporate social responsibility]-based assets. The study also concluded that a larger gap between symbolic and substantive actions has a higher positive impact on firm performance; and the more companies engage in both symbolic and substantive actions, the higher the value accumulates to the company. …
Symbolic actions can be more generally described as “window dressing” or greenwashing — essentially anything designed to give an appearance of an action while allowing business to proceed as usual.
In other words, here are the best things a company can do for its bottom line, in increasing order of benefit:
- Actually change practices in order to benefit the environment and society.
- Pretend to do that.
- Do both.
Jokes and loathing aside, it makes sense.