Earth Day 2008 1

By Ben

Earth Day version 2008 gave us an opportunity to see businesses from all over declare their support for the environment.

Planting a tree or learning about how recycling can help the earth used to be the main focus of Earth Day – but that was way back before Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth and being ‘green’ became the cool thing to do.

Today, every day is an old fashioned Earth Day, with grocery stores encouraging shoppers to bring in reusable bags, and everyone from Coke to Marriott trying to paint on a green image. Green is no longer just the cool thing to do – it’s a competitive advantage.

Earth Day 2008 seemed like no better time for many companies to announce new initiatives. The Red Sox donned special uniforms for their game yesterday, which had a green recycle sign around the logo. Circuit City created a new Web site that shows consumers five simple ways to go green. Of course, all of these suggestions end in giving your credit card information to Circuit City. Google couldn’t wait for Earth Day to come, while WIRED offered seven suggestions for a greener life, and AdvertisingAge also shared how people and businesses can be more earth friendly.

Betsy Mckay and Suzanne Vranica of The Wall Street Journal reported that just about everyone is feeling green these days:

So many eco-friendly marketing messages are piling up that it no longer is clear whether companies jumping on the environmental bandwagon get much advantage for doing so, marketing experts say. Instead, a green marketing campaign now is standard operating procedure for big companies.

Anheuser-Busch is just one of these companies, and is airing four new television and print ads that feature employees discussing the company’s commitment to the environment. You can see the videos on the green page of their Web site, which even includes a sentimental story:

Today, many companies are “going green.” But at Anheuser-Busch, we’re proud to say our tradition of environmental stewardship dates back to our founder, Adolphus Busch. In the late 1800s, he began recycling leftover grain from the brewing process, using it for cattle feed, a practice that continues today.

Deborah Zabarenko of Reuters took a more political approach to Earth Day, and reported that even President Bush planted a tree – there’s nothing like a great photo opportunity!

In the midst of all this ‘green’ love, Jeffery Ball of The Wall Street Journal writes that Earth Day might not be that great after all:

The world has never seemed more focused on the environment than it is this Earth Day — and that worries many environmentalists.

Launched in 1970 as a protest against corporate environmental misconduct, Earth Day has become a planet-hugging marketing frenzy for companies themselves. Makers of everything from snack chips to sport-utility vehicles now use April 22 to boast about their efforts to help save the planet. Pitching energy-efficient products, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., once criticized for being environmentally unfriendly, isn’t content with a mere Earth Day. In a national marketing campaign, the retailer is declaring April “Earth Month.”

It’s clear that Earth Day is well on its way to becoming a consumer holiday like Valentine’s Day. The only question is whether or not the good that comes from this awareness can be substantial in helping the environment.

What do you think?

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