NPR logo

Green Messages Can Confuse Consumers

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/90824293/90824258" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Green Messages Can Confuse Consumers

Environment

Green Messages Can Confuse Consumers

Green Messages Can Confuse Consumers

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/90824293/90824258" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A growing number of consumers want to show their concern for the environment by purchasing environment-friendly products. But now the question has emerged — how do you define a "green" company?

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

In NPR business news we take a closer look at brands that are Earth friendly.

As you might have noticed, the environmental movement has gone mainstream. More consumers try to buy things they think are better for the environment, and they do so in part based on how they perceive a brand. Ah, but a new study shows there's still a big gap between looking green and going green.

NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

YUKI NOGUCHI: Here's the problem: when a company spends millions of dollars on television ads and a green and yellow flower logo you start to think this is good for the planet, even if what you're doing is buying gasoline.

PIERRE BERTHON: They call themselves Beyond Petroleum. Well, if they were beyond petroleum then the majority of their business would be in alternative energies. But 99 percent or 95 percent of BP is still focused on petroleum.

NOGUCHI: That's Pierre Berthon, marketing professor at Bentley College. He asked Generation Y consumers which brands they consider Earth friendly. BP ranked sixth on the list. Number one was Toyota, maker of the Prius. But Berthon points out that Toyota also makes plenty of SUVs and trucks that diminish its claim to greenness.

Meanwhile, Nike gets a bad rep, even though it recycles shoes and uses organic material. It ranks ninth on Berthon's worst list. In other words, consumers are a little confused. But that's to be expected.

BERTHON: I think, as a society, we're learning the language of environmental responsibility, and the rules haven't been agreed upon as yet.

NOGUCHI: But Berthon says consumers and businesses will eventually work those rules out.

Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.