Making the Most of Earth Day


Corwin Hiebert


May 14, 2024
4-min read

As Earth Day approaches, the spotlight on corporate environmental responsibility intensifies. This public discourse on sustainability provides food and beverage brands with a remarkable opportunity to engage consumers on the subject; however, it’s easy to let the buzzwords take over and a brand’s suddenly green voice can get them trouble.

Sustainability must be more than a messaging pillar for your brand – it needs to be an integral part of your core values and it has to be put into action. Brand credibility can quickly tank if consumers catch wind of greenwashing.

When Earth Day comes around a lot of brands will jump on the bandwagon and make claims they aren’t actually living up to. Another common culprit is when brands are unknowingly greenwashing (it’s not hard to do).

Let's talk about how to ensure your content pillars and brand purpose are rooted in authenticity, helping to avoid the dreaded label of greenwashing.

Knowing the Terms: So, what is greenwashing?

Greenwashing occurs when a brand projects an illusion of environmental stewardship, portraying itself as environmentally friendly without meaningful actions to back it up.

This practice is essentially a marketing veneer of sustainability. For instance, labeling a product as 'eco-friendly' becomes greenwashing when there is no (or very limited) verifiable information to demonstrate its positive impact on the environment (source).

Brand Audit: Are you authentic in your sustainability claims?

The reason greenwashing poses a risk, is that a lack of authenticity will lead to consumer distrust and will damage a brand’s reputation over time – especially with today's consumers holding brands to a much higher standard.

When a brand ventures too far from its plausible messaging, they end up blurring the lines between truly impactful initiatives and opportunistic claims. That’s when consumer cynicism will start to kick in.  

If you’re not sure if you're greenwashing or not, it might be time to examine your messaging with a brand audit to ensure you’re not unintentionally sending the wrong signals. Look for where you might be using terms like “climate-neutral” or “climate-positive,” for example. If you don't have a measurement system in place to prove it, this claim may not be for your brand.

Philanthropic tree planting or garbage collection are good things, but in order for the messaging to be associated with an authentic sustainability claim, a brand’s carbon offsetting must be done within the context of other bold initiatives. The key is to promote what you are in fact doing, not what you think people want to hear.

Moving Forward: Strategies for environmental integrity

To shore-up the credibility of your sustainability claims, here are a few strategies your brand can adopt that will make an impact on what you say and how you say it on Earth Day:

Use less packaging. Pare down any waste associated with online orders, especially if it’s less plastic. This is an immediately noticeable change for consumers.

Use eco-friendly vehicles. Reduce your carbon footprint by using better for the earth delivery vehicles. This can easily be advertised on the vehicle itself.

Practice ethical labour practices. Using Fairtrade products and materials in your processes can go a long way. Check in on your vendors and make adjustments as needed to ensure you’re contributing to the solution instead of the problem.

Engage a trusted partner. You don’t have to do this alone. Reach out to a sustainability expert to help you identify and measure your impact and advise on improvements – such as Assent.

Set and communicate measurable goals. Document your environmental objectives and openly report on the progress. You don’t need to swim in data to do this right: measure what’s important and report on it. Sharing your progress along the way is just as credible as the end result.

Dedicate some real budget. Put your money where your mouth is. Sure, it may take some time to build up the climate war chest, but start ASAP and incrementally grow it each quarter and each fiscal year. You can also align yourself with vendors that are working towards similar climate goals, putting money into the good fight instead of the big guys.

B Corp Certification. B Corp Certifications adds a layer of transparency that consumers can trust and going through the certification process can help discover areas for improvement. Ethical Food Group can help your brand get certified through one of our vetted network, just reach out to get started.

We Can Help You Make the Most of Earth Day

Upholding environmental integrity brings with it numerous advantages, such as bolstering consumer confidence, fostering brand devotion, and most critically, making a meaningful impact on both society and the environment.

It also gives you the confidence your marketing team needs to be loud and proud online so you can transcend beyond the annual observance of Earth Day and embody an all-year-round commitment. If you’re worried about greenwashing or want to learn more about brand audits, get in touch with us! Ethical Food Group is here to help you get on the right path.

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Corwin Hiebert
VP, Strategic Partnerships, EFG
Corwin is at the helm of the day-to-day activities of EFG, and brings his year's of experience in the food business to every EFG member, partner and client.

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