Last Thursday was the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, a day that celebrates our planet.
Earth Day has recently been used as a convenient opportunity for businesses to express their pledge to environmental consciousness and promote their up-and-coming green products. Historically, many of these marketing campaigns were designed to appeal to eco-conscious consumers, and could be perceived as “greenwashing.” Last Thursday, we expected nothing less than the status quo.
What did we see instead? An impressive showing of restraint from the business community. Sure, there were the usual marketing gimmicks, but there was less hype and more substance. Stonyfield Farms, Shaw’s, Walgreens, Burt’s Bees and others had product give-aways, but the products and services they were giving away were almost sustainable – and most certainly did raise awareness for the day, a benefit that might pay future dividends. Other companies took the opportunity to share their CSR reports, information about their LEED buildings, carbon disclosures, and green product innovations.
Perhaps this is yet another indication of a fundamental shift away from corporations believing that eco-consumerism is a trend that can be exploited for profits, toward a sustainability strategy that is fully integrated into mainstream business: Earth Day everyday.
To see companies’ environmental activities leading up to Earth Day, check out the US Chamber of Commerce’s Business Civic Leadership Center’s impressive listing of business’s environmental activities:
I was also pleasantly surprised by the activity on behalf of the federal government. Sure they didn’t pass climate legislation as I would like, but the White House, who never uses the top of whitehouse.gov for advertisements, devoted the full opening screen to Earth Day and their A New Foundation program. That program is a collaboration between the White House and multiple federal agencies (DOE, USDA, EPA) to get citizens involved in greening their homes, workplaces, communities, travels, stores, schools, etc. Through the White House and EPA’s sites, citizens can share their environmental protection stories and participate in the It’s My Environment video project.
Learn more about those initiatives at: