Sunday, January 16, 2011


On the one hand more brands, companies and industries focus on being increasingly sustainable and green by aligning their marketing efforts to reflect their sustainable efforts. One the other hand, taking a closer look at some of these companies will show you that they are actually greenwashing. What is greenwashing and how can you detect if a company greenwashes?

Greenwashing describes "the deceptive use of green PR or green marketing in order to promote a misleading perception that a company's policies or products (such as goods or services) are environmentally friendly." In other words, companies that greenwash tend to spend more money on making their advertising appear green than actually focusing on reducing the impact on the environment through their actions. 

Here is an example of potential greenwashing by Comcast. Comcast offers customers the option of receiving their bills online by enrolling in the Ecobill service, instead of receiving paper bills. Their slogan is "Save Paper. Save Trees". This alone sounds really good, but then Comcast  utilizes tremendous amounts of paper for their direct marketing campaigns. It appears that many companies today try to be more sustainable, however they do not transfer their efforts to all parts of their business operations (just yet). This contributes to an inconsistent green message, which could then lead to greenwashing accusations.

What can you as a consumer do to avoid greenwashed products and detect greenwashing? Here are some tips:
  • Look for Green Certification from reputable and credible industry organizations
  • Try to identify the original manufacturer. 
  • Generic terms such as "environmentally-friendly" or "earth-smart"are not certified to provide you with any specific information to compare them to other products. 
  • Be aware of any contradictory terms, such as "green" pesticides
  • Take a look at the Greenwashing Index website online. This website allows people to rate marketing campaign based on their authenticity. 
Let us know if you encountered any greenwashing and share you thoughts!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


The club is off to a great start this term. The club's officers met yesterday to discuss the goals for this term and becoming a member will be worthwhile for you, because the club has great events planned this term.

We, the club's officers, would like to invite you to the official kick-off meeting on February 7th, 2011 from 5pm to 6pm in room 5207. We will introduce the club, talk about planned events and how you can get actively involved in the club!

To stay up-to-date on planned club events and to read information about  sustainability trends and insights be sure to also check out our Facebook and Twitter pages:

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact the club at:

We look forward to seeing you at the kick-off meeting!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Welcome to the Students for Sustainability Club!

S4S wants to make this blog a valuable source for you to learn more about sustainability and topics related to the subject. Therefore, this first blog post will be dedicated entirely to the meaning of sustainability.

We are confronted with the word sustainability more and more every day through politics and the media, but what does the term really mean? 

Terminology wise sustainability means to "maintain", "endure" and "support". In 1987, the Brundtland Report of the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) developed a definition, which is still widely known and used today to define the concept behind sustainable development: 

"Sustainable development seeks to meet the needs and aspirations of the present without compromising the ability to meet those of the future."

Based on this definition the 2005 World Summit defined the environmental, social and economic demands as the "three pillars" of sustainability. These pillars need to be reconciled to accomplish sustainable development today and in the future. 

It becomes evident that sustainability and sustainable development is very complex and connects to many different fields. For example, each dimension of the pillars has many sub-dimensions, which again have an interdependent relationship with each other.
Given this complexity, sustainability can be looked at through the perspective of the planet earth or the perspective of one's individuals behavior.

The following video can give you a better idea of how different fields interact and affect millions of people around the globe negatively and simultaneously it shows solutions to be more sustainable: 

Given the world's constant development in areas such as technology, engineering, and transportation we can be sure to hear more about sustainable development in the future and  we as individuals will also be affected more by its measures. 

Is there anything that you already do today to be more sustainable and that you could share?