The Green Turn finally reaches everyone
Climate change, plastic pollution, and biodiversity loss – these problems are all increasingly at the heart of the populations of advanced societies, affecting consumption decisions and governments around the world.
The Green Turn is no longer just an intellectual topic of discussion at the dinner table for well-off citizens in hipster districts. It is a reality and directly affects each of us, touching virtually every business sector and continent, from the EU Green Deal to Joe Biden’s ambitious climate plan, as well as Japan’s and China’s increasing efforts in implementing the Green Turn.
Although the climate debate often gives the impression that the energy sector plays a key role in reducing emissions, i.e. stopping the burning of fossil fuels, this is only half the truth – if at all. Everyone must contribute to a climate-neutral society: the individual in their daily life and in their consumption decisions; the entrepreneur by innovating their services or products; and society as a whole by creating and framing policies through the democratic process.
Over the years I have advised companies operating in a wide variety of business areas. Today, there is no one in my portfolio for whom sustainability or green thinking is not an important issue. And not only in terms of communication, but fundamentally – on a strategic level. However, it seems to me, a great many companies have not yet taken steps in this direction. I do not know whether it is a lack of knowledge or indifference, but I am sure of one thing – sooner or later everyone will have to face the changes that are driving the green revolution. And it is better to deal with them sooner rather than later.
The Green Turn can be perceived differently. On the one hand, there are restrictions on the freedom of enterprise, along with additional obligations and limitations. On the other hand, it contributes to a better living environment and creates new opportunities for many companies and economies, to become more prosperous.
Both attitudes are also transferred to corporate communication. It is quite easy to see who is doing climate or sustainability communication simply because others are doing it, and therefore believe they should also do something. But other companies have content and communication going hand in hand, each supporting the other.
In general, my advice is the following: if you do nothing, then better not to talk, but if you want to talk, then start doing.
Green aspirations must not exist in communication alone. There must be deeds behind the words. Believe me, the green literacy of journalists and consumers has greatly improved and there is no point in attempting to pull the wool over their eyes. It is so transparent. The stupidest thing is to get caught up in greenwashing. There are companies, both here and in the rest of the world, who have stepped in shit with both feet already. Terms such as environmentally friendly, carbon neutral, natural, ethical or sustainable should only be used if they are based on real action. Words alone no longer work; the conscious consumer is aware of the finest nuances of greenwashing.
If the foundation is laid properly, strong walls and a roof can be built on it. The value of modern communication should be to generate business benefits for a company, not just to capture attention. The core strength of a communications consultant lies in how to convert sustainability communication into success in key business areas.
What does this mean? Various studies have shown that sustainable companies are becoming more and more attractive for both investors and cooperation partners, and strategic communication plays a very important role in highlighting these values. It is necessary to explain, to the target groups important for the company, what they gain from the company’s use of environmentally friendly technologies, and what green thinking and innovation brings to them, as well to other customers, partners, and existing or future employees. It is necessary to explain to each target group, how the company’s green aspirations affect them and make their life better.
I have noticed that many companies are afraid to set ambitious goals, because they are afraid that they may not meet them. This should not be an obstacle. Even if the targets are not met in one year, it should be publicly acknowledged and pronounced, clearly, what will be done to succeed next time. Clear and measurable goals and the efficient communication of them is always a good way to announce your green aspirations.
It is obvious that by hiding their heads in the sand, all companies face a situation, sooner or later, where they have to adapt to new realities or lose out by becoming the losers of a changing world.
Let’s follow the example of organizations that are taking both big and small steps towards a better future, and welcome the change with gratitude. After all, this is actually being done for the benefit of all of us and our future generations. Let’s stop living at the expense of the environment and start cooperating with nature. As we introduce new practices, we actually quickly realize how natural and logical this is for all of us. It is not worth seeing the Green Turn as coercion. This is an opportunity. Both in terms of commerce and communication.