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JetBlue’s Green List Raises Red Flag

Leon Kaye | Tuesday May 11th, 2010 | 5 Comments

More and more consumers and companies want to go “green,” so for those of us who have believed in sustainability before that word even existed, we generally should encourage such efforts, not roll our eyes.  It’s fair to assume that the folks behind a company’s green portal or messaging efforts have the best intentions, too.  Social media is also an effective tool, which method home has brilliantly showed through its Facebook presence.  Then we have JetBlue, which has a Facebook page that borders on the absurd.

Upon receiving the invitation to join JetBlue’s “Green Pledge” page, I declined for two reasons: 1) I would have to add a Facebook application, meaning I would get more annoying spam than I could handle 2) Reading its top 10 list of pointers made me stop in my tracks and write this article.  First, it was bad enough that JetBlue appears to have hired a high school intern to create this page (apologies in advance if the author was actually a high school student—not a bad start!).  But considering all the noise over the environmental issues over air travel, JetBlue really missed the flight this time around.

I have only been writing about green business issues for a year, but I want to start with a piece of friendly advice:  do not write a top 10 list on how to be green because 1) this has been done countless times 2) it appears you are poaching from others’ lists.  I began reading the list anyway, and I was reading home remodeling suggestions, a reminder to walk, not drive, and to purchase a humidifier, I wondered:  what did any of this have to do with air travel?

Well, I had to scroll down and read the 10 things (if you’re doing so much, why stop at 10?) that JetBlue has done to make the world a greener place, and I just had to stop.  Some were commendable, such as installing LED lights and lighter aircraft seats (mentioned on the same point, so really this a list of 11!), but of course there were no links allowing the reader to verify if this was actually the truth.  And again, this read like a high school project:  the organization of an e-recycling drive, saving paper by not printing an in-flight magazine (hardly a loss), and suggesting carbon offsets through Carbonfund.org.

My favorite, however, was the fact that JetBlue helped Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s Million Trees initiative, planting enough so that the mayor only had another 999,300 trees to go.  JetBlue even went further, saying it planted 800 flowers, which demonstrates the empowerment we all can feel when we toss a handful of our seeds in our background and watch the results grow.

But wait, there’s more!  You can enter a drawing to win some Martha Stewart green cleaners, some appliances, a Vespa scooter, or best of all, a meeting with Deepak Chopra.

So is social media an effective marketing tool for broadcasting your green message?  For capturing those with short attention spans, absolutely.  But for those who are serious about vetting companies’ green messaging efforts, JetBlue’s attempt, even with a pretty graphic of a tree that has slick recycling icons, is pretty sad.  For the jaded, giving happy household tips before even launching what you are doing within your industry risks opening your efforts to scorn and scrutiny.  This Blue’s attempts at being green only raise a red flag.


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  • Jess

    this is a really nitpicky article. If you look at what JB has been doing, it's done much more than many airlines. It'd be a better service to the public if the author instead of criticizing a promo looked at airline sustainability and provided suggestions for the future.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jen.boynton Jen Boynton

    I really liked this article. If there are things Jet Blue is doing for the environment, then we'd love to hear about them- but this is the face of their environmental effort on Facebook, and that deserves a review. If it were an awesome app, that's what we would say, but let's be honest- this 800 flower thing is kind of ridiculous.

  • nickaster

    Well, I've seen worse. I realize that JetBlue isn't really talking about anything that the airline is doing when it comes to those Top 10 Tips, so it's something of a distraction from real issues. It might be more interesting to hear about what they may or may not be doing vis a vis fuel efficiency, biofuels and so on.

    You're right that the facebook app is very basic, but then again, so is the level of most people's understanding of these things, so it's harmless at worse, might get a few people excited at best… my two cents!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jen.boynton Jen Boynton

    I really liked this article. If there are things Jet Blue is doing for the environment, then we'd love to hear about them- but this is the face of their environmental effort on Facebook, and that deserves a review. If it were an awesome app, that's what we would say, but let's be honest- this 800 flower thing is kind of ridiculous.

  • nickaster

    Well, I've seen worse. I realize that JetBlue isn't really talking about anything that the airline is doing when it comes to those Top 10 Tips, so it's something of a distraction from real issues. It might be more interesting to hear about what they may or may not be doing vis a vis fuel efficiency, biofuels and so on.

    You're right that the facebook app is very basic, but then again, so is the level of most people's understanding of these things, so it's harmless at worse, might get a few people excited at best… my two cents!

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