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Show customers you're sincerely green

Dec 20, 2009

There's good news and bad news if you're looking for a way to let customers know you are serious about making your company green. The good news is that there are many third party organizations that certify businesses in the areas of environmental and social responsibility. The bad news is that because there are so many, it can get a little confusing. It depends on the type of business you have and what you want to certify.

Certifying organizations are called trust providers. They verify the activity of companies like you that want to engage in transparency, environmental sustainability, economic empowerment, and ethical business practices. The “World of Good” website publishes an excellent directory of trust providers that tells what each provider verifies and has a link to the provider’s website for more details. Check it out at Click the “Trust Providers” link at the bottom left.

There are 39 trust providers listed in the World of Good directory. Each one has a slightly different take on verifying aspects of the business—such as production processes, business practices, impact of use and raw materials. All types of businesses and products are covered—artisans, paper products, imports, microenterprise, recycled content products, organic products and more. Find the one that is the best match for your business and contact them to find out what their certification process entails.

You also need to be aware of the important the concept of “green washing." Green washing is akin to “whitewashing” — and the term is applied to companies who color themselves green on the outside, without really practicing the solid environmental and social principles that are required to make green claims. According to the Natural Marketing Institute (, green consumers are very discriminating, and it doesn’t take them long to spot a fraud. Once a company is labeled as a green washer, it is very difficult to regain consumer trust. You’re on the right track when you opt to have a third party verify your green claims.


Diane Wolverton


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