Eco-labeling vs. greenmuting: What’s right for you? - A blog by Peter Korchnak

Eco-labeling vs. greenmuting: What’s right for you? - A blog by Peter Korchnak

This commentary can be found originally at: Sustainable Marketing Blog by Peter Korchnak. Better triple bottom line.


The 3BL Media blog roll is a select list of the most influential, respected, and authoritative voices in corporate social responsibility. Compiled from the 3BL Media staff’s extensive contacts with longtime CSR commentators, these bloggers offer relevant news, opinions, and ideas about all things CSR in one convenient place.     

Friday, February 5, 2010 - 6:44pm


A while ago someone asked me whether my business card was printed on recycled paper. Yes, it is, I replied. Why, then, the response went, is there nowhere on my card a corresponding symbol to be seen? And, What if, when deciding whether to keep the card or do business with my company, a prospect tosses out mine because that sign of my environmental consciousness is missing?

My ultimate response boiled down to this: If a prospect makes her decision to do business with me based on the presence or absence of the recycled-content symbol on my business card, we’re probably not a good fit. My reputation and work, not symbols on my business card, should speak for me.

What are the pros and cons of eco-labeling? Should you greenmute instead? Are there other ways to convey environmental friendliness of your products or services?


Eco-labels are marks awarded by third parties to indicate environmental or health attributes of a product and build credibility with receptive consumers.

So many government entities, nonprofits, and corporations issue eco-labels that today there are more than 300 eco-labels in North America alone, in many industries and product categories. The eco-label landscape is confusing, and as a result eco-labeling as a marketing tactic has lost some of its cachet.

In addition, many labels have been misused or downright abused, as when the Smart Choices label adorned sugary cereals. Greenwashing is alive and giving eco-labels or eco-language a bad name. Just prior to writing this post, I read about UK’s advertising watchdog banning a Finnair ad because it called flying “eco-smart”. TerraChoice just added the use of false in-house eco-labels to their list of greenwashing sins.

Eco-labeling and related issues can be quite daunting for a business. Which is why I look forward to attending and reporting on tomorrow’s virtual conference“Sustainable Brands In Focus: Building Credibility, Avoiding Greenwash”*.

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