Every April the call goes out for everyone to be greener with respect to the environment. It might be tempting to put together a splashy marketing campaign to inform your customers of your “greenness”, but it’s what you do day-in and day-out that makes a difference. So how can you convey your green message the most effective way? Let’s look at some tips.
Kermit was right
Kermit The Frog on Sesame Street sighed and said, “It ain’t easy being green.” If you have an established program of environmental commitment for your company, you know it’s more a matter of consistency than anything else. The trick is letting your customers and potential customers know what you’re doing, so it can influence their decision of where to have their clothes and other items cleaned.
So what are you doing? Let’s start with the basics.
recycling poly/using recycled poly
reusable garment/order bags
recover heat and steam to generate hot water
Those are items you can put on a check-list. But being green goes a lot deeper. It’s a mindset.
Company policy to buy and utilize “green” supplies whenever available
Company challenge to employees to find greener ways to do things
Support of local community green initiatives and events
In depth review of all procedures with an eye to environmental impact
Active awareness of environmental issues and laws that affect your company and the industry
Tell the story
Signage is a good start. Having conspicuous banners or other signs that give the checklist of what you are doing, or that state your company mission statement with respect to the environment brings the issue to your customers and those who drive by. Be sure the posters/banners are attractive. Don’t go amateur when you are trying to impress. Hire an actual graphic designer (your banner printer may have one on staff) to design something both beautiful and communicative.
You can be doing everything right and still not get credit for your efforts. If you are waiting for someone to come and interview you for the paper about all the great environmental initiatives you have started, you’ll be dead before it happens. Instead, it’s up to you to tell the story and communicate your commitment.
Have bins ready for recycling hangers and other items. Make sure they are attractive, accessible and clean. Recycling should be a “clean” activity—don’t make your customers think twice about contributing because they’re afraid to get dirty doing it. Regularly empty the bins and complete the circle of recycling.
Fill your front window with green plants—and designate someone to keep them healthy and alive. Nothing says, “We don’t care,” like a plant that is hanging over the sides of the pot looking like it will be dead in a day or two. Nothing is more inviting than healthy plants that brim with life. It’s an easy way to send a subliminal message of your environmental concerns.
Your website is a great place to tell the green story of your company. Utilize Facebook and Twitter to share your mission with respect to the environment, too. These are places where you can give details, include really wonderful images that make readers smile, and reduce your carbon footprint by not printing it on fliers that get tossed. If you do utilize fliers or hang tags, be sure to include a discreet line on it that says, “Please help by recycling this.”
Words are powerful
Do you like being around people who are always negative? Do you enjoy listening to them run other people down? Are you willing to go out of your way to be with them? Probably not. So treat your green messaging the same way. There’s been a tendency in the industry to go negative when talking about the latest and greenest solutions.
NOT “We got rid of the nasty chemicals”, BUT “Our cleaning processes are safe for your skin, your home, and your family.”
NOT “We’re cleaner than the other guy!”, BUT “We are committed to environmentally respectful cleaning.”
NOT “Run from dangerous cleaning the others are doing”, BUT “Come join our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and clean up our beautiful world.”
Do you see the difference? Giving a positive message is attractive. It draws people in and makes them want to participate with you. Harping on a negative message makes you sound surly and unpleasant. (It also makes them wonder what you were using before that was so bad, and which you’ve now gotten rid of. Not a nice thought.)
Think long and hard about how you want to tell your earth-friendly story, right down to the words you choose, the images you will use, and the solid commitment your company puts behind the effort. It’s not just a gloss you put on the surface; it’s a substantial part of your corporate culture.
Being solidly green will keep the nasty phrase “green washing” far from your door, or your customers’ minds. It’s one of those things that is good for you, good for them, and good for the world.
Tell us about your innovative green initiatives. We’d love to make you famous!
Becca Anderson spent 17 years in public relations, advertising and corporate PR before joining Fabricare Canada in 2000. She was named editor in 2013, and welcomes feedback about the magazine via the contact form on this site.