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Greener or Later

Environmental concerns are more than a passing fad

February 2011 By Elise Hacking Carr

Baby On Board signs. Hypercolor T-shirts. Snooki. Some fads should be left in the past (even though, technically, the pint-sized Jersey Shore cast member continues to invade Hollywood and television sets across the country).

Meanwhile, other fads are (perhaps, rightfully) returning to the mainstream. Vinyl records. Peasant blouses. Betty White.

So where does the green movement fit into the puzzle? Can it even be considered a fad? Maybe not, considering environmental issues have plagued the world throughout history. However, public reaction to this topic has not been as consistent.

In 2006, a PowerPoint presentation—voiced by Al Gore in "An Inconvenient Truth"—brought environmental awareness to the masses. "Green frenzy" soon followed. Magazines such as Vanity Fair published green issues. Members of the hollywood elite, particularly Leonardo DiCaprio, preached on the importance of reducing carbon emissions.

A year later, under the guise of "saving ourselves" from global warming, the Live Earth benefit concerts united more than 150 musical acts in 11 locations around the world. The shows were to be broadcast to a mass global audience via television, radio and live Internet streams with projections of 2 billion viewers. It flopped. Only 15 million tuned in on the big day.

Businesses eventually got involved, touting green products as a way to save the planet. Unfortunately, for many companies, the underlying goal was to usher in the green (i.e., dollars) and make a tidy profit. As a result, the good intentions of some become discredited and placing trust gets complicated.

Leading environmentalists refer to this clever advertising technique as "greenwashing." According to a 2009 study by TerraChoice, an environmental consulting firm, approximately 98 percent of eco-friendly products make misleading claims. The firm investigated 4,000 consumer products found on supermarket shelves and presented its findings to Congress.

The printing industry definitely is not excluded from the green soap opera of fickle interest, changing trends, greenwashing and financial threat. Nevertheless, many printers remain committed to the cause in a way that exceeds product pushing and can, instead, be found in company policy and workflow.



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