If you are preparing a business presentation or marketing program, there are some new issues you might wish to be concerned with. Just the other day I was listening to a business presentation where the young 20-something entrepreneurs kept talking about how environmentally friendly they were. Great, but can they prove it? Indeed, I asked them if they have empirical data backing up those statements, and they said; No, but – and then explained why they “felt” they were environmentally friendly. Sorry folks that ain’t good enough anymore – let me explain.
The Federal Trade Commission is indeed considering new rules and restrictions on the use of phrases such as; “Environmentally Friendly” because they believe aggressive marketers have abused it. Which is true, some have. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission put forth a very large report on the matter, and it is now asking for public opinion and comments. Whereas I am certain that some entrepreneurs somewhere, or some group of individuals has tried to promote something that was not environmentally friendly as being so, I have some reservations about all this.
Still, I think this is a huge mistake by the FTC and believe it will actually hurt the environment. It obviously started from Industry associations trying to certify themselves and leave out rogue members or those who didn’t join their association and follow their devised protocols, so they complained to the FTC. This will hurt eco-innovation in industry, and if an entrepreneur cannot use their environmental innovations in marketing, they are liable to save themselves the money and not try – thus, everyone loses, even the little fish and rain forests. See that point?
Indeed, I think the FTC is really not thinking this through. Although I am now retired, I looked at all my former websites in the various businesses I had created, and I searched the words and phrases; “environmentally friendly” and what I found is that I had used the words and phrases many times. And thinking back, I had often gone out of my way and used my own money to develop special apparatus and equipment that was environmentally safe, above and beyond the call of duty or what was required by EPA regulations or laws.
Why did I do this – for a couple of reasons; one, because it was the right thing to do; and two, because it was good public relations. Indeed, we often promoted our expenditures and new innovations in environmental operations in our industry and promoted it with our customers. If an entrepreneur is not allowed to promote the fact that they have spent a good deal of money going out of their way to be environmentally friendly, then why should they do it at all. In other words, it is against their best interests for making a profit to spend extra money to be environmentally friendly.
They are doing it because it is the right thing to do, and because it is a push currently in our society to conserve energy, recycle, and to live within a low carbon footprint. If the Federal Trade Commission doesn’t want to promote a clean environment, this is a great idea, but I think their concept of regulating the use of those words will do nothing more than prevent entrepreneurs, small businesses, and even large corporations from doing anything extra that might help the environment. In other words, this will hurt the environment. In fact, I’m quite certain of it. And, I’d like you to please consider all this.