I am a big supporter of environmental responsibility in business. I love the fact that, today, more businesses are environmentally conscious than ever.

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Having said that, I believe that businesses should be environmentally responsible because it is the right thing to do, NOT to be able to use their thinly-veiled environmental efforts as a marketing scheme.

It seems that everyone is trying to market themselves through claims of environmental responsibility to the point that it is getting unclear what some of them are selling. Some organizations are actually embarrassing themselves through their attempts at green marketing.

Take ISM, for example. They issued a release touting the “green-ness” of their International Supply Management Conference and, for one of the examples, said that “temporary tattoos celebrating ISM’s new…qualification — are printed with vegetable oil ink on recycled paper.”

To me, that is environmental waste, not environmental responsibility. Who are they marketing this qualification to? Four-year olds?

Recycled paper is still paper. Paper that can be used more responsibly so that fewer trees have to be cut down and fewer forests have to have their natural habitats destroyed for the sake of creating paper. Even office supply vendors are cutting their ties with paper suppliers because of environmental irresponsibility.

Today’s management teams expect us to use environmental responsibility as a factor in our supplier selections. So what can we – as buyers, purchasing managers, procurement executives – do about this green marketing problem?

I say that we challenge our suppliers’ claims. Show them that it will take more than just using the word “green” in their marketing collateral to win a higher score on our supplier evaluation sheets. Dismiss their thinly-veiled efforts and explain what real environmental responsibility is. Share your sustainability definitions with your strategic suppliers and, where your firm has sustainability expertise, share that with those suppliers so that they, too, can make a difference for the planet.

By purchasing professionals upping the standards of environmental responsibility claims, we can help the planet and hopefully get rid of the noise that is masquerading as green marketing.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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