Some websites are bold and braggadocios. Others are professional and appeal to the professional type. But, we all know that websites
are like billboards. They are advertisements hoping to attract
businesses no matter how humble the real business may be. For $2500 to
$5000, a website can have a very impressive offering. So, let's not
look for the cleverness of the design but let's ask some of the due
diligence questions that prove the value of their boastful claims.
First of all, don't believe all that you read. Skillful copywriters can pass off an idea for a fact. One of the classic give-aways is if
the company says that these are "audited certifications," but they are
purposefully misusing the phrase instead of "self-assessment." An
audit is not how you judge yourself, but how a professional would look
at you. Just ask the IRS if they believe you when you send in your
self-assessed tax return. Do they say, "Good enough for me!" Or do
they eventually audit taxpayers to prove the validity of the return?
But, let's move on. Weak certification sites rarely post their address. Worst yet, they really want you to think that they are
credible by posting a lengthy directory of "Green businesses." If you
do your due diligence on these listings, you will find that they
started out with a free listing on a Green directory to attract scores
of listings. Later, they hope to re-populate the list with real
members. In the meantime, they work hard to convince their visitors
that they are bigger than they really are. If you find fake or vacant
businesses in their directory, run away.
But, are these website offerings really helping save the world, or are they fattening their pockets in the hopes of buying a Hummer? We
have to ask, if these certifications are bought off the Internet with
no cost of delivery, requires no live person to every meet you or
conduct real audit, and requires only downloaded compliance firms ....
why are you doing the right thing by charging $50 because there is
nearly a zero cost to the process?
The environmental crisis is not a marketing trend for marketeers to strip out money while the market is hot. If a business can download
the certification program with the same ease as an iTune, why not
charge iTune prices? Worse yet, what about people foolish enough to
buy a hollow certification for highly inflated prices?
You don't see LEED, ISO, or Underwriters Labs (UL) selling their certification over the Internet. Don't you wonder why they don't buy
into the genius of these highly profitable websites. Let me explain
why these quality programs don't offer website purchases. The answer
is INTEGRITY. Every educated person knows that you "can't prove what
is not measured." If these outfits were half-way honest, they would
avoid these kinds of deceptive practices on their own websites and drop
their prices to reflect the true value of what they offer.
The deception does stop at with the misrepresentation of these knock-off websites. They are asking otherwise ethical business people
to participate in the deception of the public. Naive consumers who are
willing to pay a little more from strained budgets, who travel a little
further to find a Green vendor, or who make sacrifices to Go Green in
their homes will be more than distraught if the truth were know about
that Internet-bought Green business certification on the
door or in your advertising.
You see, the public will be deceived for a little while by cheap, Internet certifications; but it will not last. Like every other
deceptive business practice, the truth will eventually emerge, and the
backlash will strike with true disgust toward businesses who made a
mockery of the misery in this world. If this were not true, why not be
forthcoming and put a little sign by that Internet logo that says, "We
bought our Green Certification off the Internet."
Bogus and unproven Green business certifications are frankly just another form of Greenwashing. We know that Greenwashing is a method
that business use to misrepresent their company or product to gullible
consumers. This is wrong, and there needs to be a way to get honest
about our environmental commitment.
The Green Business League is the only Green business certification that requires a live audit by a trained Certified Green Consultant. If you visit the directory of this company, you will not find hundreds
of free listings or vacant businesses. This list represents businesses
that had to work their way up a nationally applied standard of points.
It isn't easy and the costs a probably a little higher than the website
knock-offs. Each GBL Green business certification
is the result of a company's willingness to install enough Green
practices to earn certification. Greenwashing cannot occur because the
Green practices are audited annually, and results are documented.
Since the Green or environmental issue is not going to go away, and it will be part of our everyday life; this is a decision that we must
all live with. For consumers, check out any company that boasts Green
certification. If any slob can buy it off the Internet for a fee, let
that business know that this is a deceptive practice, Greenwashing, and
not a place that you will bring your business. After a few bouts with
Green Integrity, the only question will be how long it takes to scratch
that fake logo off the door.