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Which Brands’ ‘Green’ Claims Are Legitimate?

Running a green/sustainable/environmentally friendly brand is obviously a big deal now. Following retail giant H&M‘s promises to use its water responsibly (under the watchful eye of the World Wildlife Federation), we figured we’d revisit the issue.

The public is understandably skeptical of such “sustainability” pledges, especially when made by notorious polluters like BP. It’s sort of like Apple promising to stop using child labor to build your iPhone or McDonald’s swearing by “certified sustainable fish” for its seafood McBites: how much of this is for real and how much of it is just another “greenwashing” corporate reputation stunt?

It’s one thing for a brand to release ads highlighting its environmental efforts but, as the Greenpeace Stop Greenwashing project tells us, most of these companies aren’t really all that interested in making their practices more sustainable–especially if they operate in the energy, automotive or forestry industries.

BP is a great example of a brand that just doesn’t have much credibility in the environmental sphere, no matter how many enthusiastic press releases its team writes. Puma, on the other hand, has begun publishing regular accounts of its supply chain’s influence on the environment, making clear that many of its practices have a serious impact and setting related goals that can be measured statistically.

So tell us: which brands do you trust on the sustainability front? While we’re at it, we have a couple more questions:

  • As consumers, what does a brand have to do to earn your respect re: “green” initiatives?
  • As a PR pro, how would you advise clients to conduct and publicize related projects? Will companies like H&M be perceived as leaders or followers?
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