Earth Day has a lot in common with Christmas. The latter has different meanings, of course: celebrating the birth of the Christ child, being together with friends and family or simply celebrating the shift of the seasons to winter. Earth Day, on the other hand, has for 52 years been a day for citizens to show their commitment to environmental protection. The messaging for both Christmas and Earth Day, however, has become muddled. In the case of Christmas, the problem has largely been about crass consumerism and messages urging us to buy stuff; in the case of Earth Day, one emerging problem has been about crass consumerism and messages urging us to buy stuff. Earth Day has also become a time for those working within the marketing communications space to pitch sustainability stories that are often confusing and quite honestly, too frequently dubious.
So, if you’re curious about TriplePundit’s coverage of Earth Day and Earth Month, please note that you’re currently reading it: both the start and end.
Going back to all the confusing messages that often surround Earth Day: One company has come up with a glossary that can help sort through the marketing messaging clutter that surrounds such terms as green, eco-friendly, low-impact and plant-positive.
The online grocery shopping platform Hive says it’s got a solution for all the terms that keep appearing before and around Earth Day. The company, which includes subscription boxes as among its services, has pledged to sell and deliver products that only meets its standards, such as ingredient integrity (as in going beyond products described only as “natural”), recyclable packaging, a low-carbon footprint and those goods coming only from companies that have made some form of commitment to social good.
To that end, Hive has recently launched an online dictionary that lays out these terms, helps consumers put them in context and then, this guide offers suggestions on how shoppers can actually gauge whether such products can back up such claims or not.
Take the case of the term “climate-friendly,” which in reality can mean just about anything and nothing at the same time. In this case, if a company is claiming that its products are indeed climate-friendly, it has got to back up its claims, which in this case includes proof of certification including Climate-Neutral Certified and Regenerative Organic Certified.
The same goes for “mindfully made,” a term seen on food and beauty products packaging as well as at brick-and-mortar department stores and online on shopping platforms such as Etsy. To avoid any confusion, Hive suggests checking out products that carry the certification labels from the likes of Fair Trade USA, Fairtrade America or Fair for Life.
Some terms are more difficult to vet, such as zero-waste. When companies make such a claim, they are generally implying that none of the trash that results from its operations makes it to incinerators, landfills or the globe’s waterways. But the very term also suggests the company is taking such an approach everywhere, from sourcing to shipping, at both warehouses and manufacturing facilities. It’s a tough claim to make, with the only certification on this front being the True Zero Waste Certification program. As for the True certification seal, that means a company’s zero-waste pledge has been verified and hence certified that at least 90 percent of is waste is diverted from municipal waste streams.
Hive’s dictionary offers a solid start for consumers to learn about what all these various environmental claims mean, and what people should be searching for when they investigate such commitments. This month, Hive is adding more incentive for people to visit its glossary site to learn about these labels: Through the end of April, Hive says it will donate funds to the Soil Health Institute each time someone shares the page’s link.
Image credit: Akil Mazumder via Pexels
Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.