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Come clean on sustainability

By Margaret Lawson - posted Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Welcome to another environmentally friendly day in our new, sustainable world.

You awake to the sound of an alarm clock that is powered by green energy. You eat your eco-friendly cereal before driving to your paperless office in your carbon neutral vehicle.

You buy a novel at lunchtime and pay extra for the green bag. Back at the office, you plan a business trip and pay $5 to offset your flight's emissions.


After work, you shout some of your colleagues a new, carbon neutral beer, before going home, feeling good about the fact that you've done your bit to help the environment today.

Or have you?

It's the latest and greatest thing in marketing - when selling a product, green is most definitely the new black.

We are bombarded daily with messages urging us to buy offsets and choose green-friendly products. Public consciousness about climate issues, raised through awareness events such as this week's Earth Hour, has led to the "green" factor becoming a key differentiating point for brands.

And it's now being applied to more products and services than ever.

Last month the first carbon neutral pub in Australia was launched, along with Australia's first eco-beer.


At least one bank offers a product where you can give them cash in return for carbon offsets that "neutralise" your household and car emissions. Airlines are on the bandwagon too, urging us to "fly carbon neutral".

The value of this global offset market was estimated at more than $US120 million ($131.5 million) in the first three quarters of 2006, and is predicted to rise by 500 per cent in three years. Sales of green products in Australia are similarly on the way up.

But how much do we really know about what we're buying?

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First published in The Courier-Mail on Mach 27, 2008.

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About the Author

Margaret Lawson is a director of Cole Lawson Communications and Expert Guide and has national and international experience in public relations. She has worked on the marketing of carbon neutral and sustainability projects in the energy industry.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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