Green Business Views
The FTC has begun a much acclaimed challenge to the Greenwashing of products offered to the public, and it seems certain that Green certifications will run into similar hardships. Businesses seeking Green certification may be tempted to take the “Easy Green” approach and simply buy a certification off the Internet. These Green certifications may eventually become a badge of shame when the full truth comes out about how they were obtained. The environment is no small issue, which makes Green business certification seem meritorious. The problem arises when businesses “cheap out” on this world crisis issue.
No respected certification is purchased with the same ease as downloading a piece of software from the Internet. LEED cannot be bought over the Internet. ISO cannot be bought for a discounted fee and a promise to perform better. UL certification does not come from a self-auditing form completed online. What if the J D Powers award for excellence could be had for the asking and the payment of a fee? Would anyone respect these kinds of credentials under these compromised circumstances?
The deception comes from several marketing tricks. First of all, the ability to construct an attractive website is merely a matter of paying the programming fees. Second, is the proclivity of many of these kinds of firms to simply post up a directory of anxious volunteers as though they were actual members. Do a little due diligence and check out the membership to find that many are out of business or have never paid a dime to get a free listing from some directory.
The most deceptive part of the certification process is the “Self Audit” which is oxymoronic. You may as well sell “dry water” or “smooth sandpaper.” An audit implies that there was an independent review of the process. Does the IRS allow you to audit yourself and then say, “Good enough”? No, you can volunteer your self-assessed taxes, but an IRS audit will ask some very probing questions and demand proof. Self-assessment, though mistakenly called an audit, is evidence of the deception at the heart of these Internet certifications.
All these purposeful deceptions are not just for the private appreciation of the business owner, but actually intended to convince the buying public that companies who “bought their certification online” are worth of the public confidence as a Green business. To assuage any criticism, the business owner is now encouraged to claim that the certification is an “audited certification.” There seems little desire for transparency to tell the public that “I bought my Green certification off the Internet, and I certified myself.” We can only imagine that customers would not be as impressed if the truth were known.
“Easy Green” is the certification equivalent of Green washing. Rather than doing the job the right way, there is the temptation to short-circuit the system in the desire to attract customers. Were it not of the urgency of the environmental crisis and the awareness of a Green-motivated market, these certifications would dry up and blow away. But the real purpose of any certification is to impress the public. If this is true, then “Easy Green” certifications are intended to fool the public by a hoaxed certification.
The argument made by these Internet Green certifications is that they are encouraging businesses to be more Green compliant. In other words, good intentions can substitute for the real thing. So, why not offer your fiance a ring from a Cracker Jacks box instead of the more expensive ring from the jeweler? It’s the same thing because the guy still wants to marry the girl of his dreams. But, there is something very wrong about offering a cheap imitation when the issue is so serious, right?
The Green Business League saw this issue long before most of these Internet promoters came on the scene. Instead of loading their directory with free listings, only fully certified companies were listed. Instead of offering a website certification, GBL trained Certified Green Consultants throughout the United States and Canada to provide hands-on support and a truly independent audit. In the belief that quality counts, the GBL website proudly states, “Earned, and not Bought” as their slogan. Any company considering a Green business certification should not accept a Cracker Jacks version of the real thing. Green Business League is the only organization with the credibility, the team, and the dedication to offer Green certification that the public can trust.