Greenwashed af

Our world is incessantly telling us to buy crap we simply don’t need. I think marketers have become aware of their general audience’s realization of that fact, and they’re finding ways around it. Green advertising, as we’ve learned in lecture, is a phenomenon fairly unique to our time and sells the idea that as long as your products or lifestyle are labeled “green,” you’re not really wasting your money or buying into a marketing scheme after all!

Let’s take into consideration Earth Day. We all know the initial purpose of Earth Day wasn’t really to push products onto the public, but rather to take a full day out of our year to fully appreciate nature and the Earth. On this late April day, when the weather is finally beginning to warm up, some people choose to ride their bikes to work or spend the entirety of their free time outdoors. Well, maybe that’s what Earth Day is like for some. For many still, their celebrations of the Earth on this day are a bit ironic to say the least. I’ve seen countless people parade around in Earth Day t-shirts, using pro-Earth bumper stickers, or handing out fliers to spread environmental awareness. The production of such items, no matter how organic the cotton in that shirt is, or how much of the proceeds spent on that bumper sticker went to an eco-organization, or how much of the paper in that flier was recycled, don’t really do much to spread the true purpose of Earth Day. This is just one example of how something that began with the well-being of the Earth in mind became warped into something we can sell.

Similarly, as many of you may have heard, REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.) has chosen to spend Black Friday 2015 a little bit differently than other retail stores in their campaign #OptOutside. In past years, REI would open their doors early in the morning and welcome the mobs of consumers excited to score a deal, as most companies do. This year, however, REI announced that it would be closing on Black Friday and paying their employees to go outdoors, and encouraged their customers to do much the same. That’s awesome, isn’t it? Instead of ritualistically buying stuff, let’s all dedicate this day towards being outside.

Capture

Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love REI and the things the company stands for, but something makes me think this is just another marketing ruse. Instead of encouraging customers to buy more, REI suggests a guiltless alternative to spending the day. This use of nature as backdrop instills within their customers a righteous image of REI (i.e. REI is the only good company out there that values their employees’ and customers’ leisure over their work and money on the largest consumer holiday of the year). With such a positive image of the company in mind, people might become more inclined to return to REI or even go to REI for the first time if they’ve never set foot in the store. It’s genius.

Diana Bolton

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One thought on “Greenwashed af

  1. REI’s approach to the Black Friday “holiday” is really innovative and truly a green initiative but if you look at the big picture the environmental impact is nearly nonexistent. On a large scale, the company is still going to sell the same amount of consumer goods annually as it has in previous years. It’s nice that a handful of employees will get to spend the day outdoors, but like many other “green advertising” campaigns, the impact is so negligible that it is hard for to recognize this company as one having a truly “green” approach to the environment.

    -Jordan Cotleur

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