The case of Trek: Can an ambitious green initiative still be greenwash?
Yesterday, I got into a bit of a debate with my boyfriend. He was showing me a cool site, 1 World 2 Wheels, a Trek initiative with a goal of increasing cycling five-fold by 2017. They're supporting advocacy organizations who promote bicycle-friendly communities in the US. We both love this program!
But - here's the debate. I called it greenwash. He disagreed.
I think Trek is trying to get green cred by tagging a great project with a vague environmental theme (1 World) to throw a green shadow on the entire company. The initiative is great, but supporting an environmentally great initiative does not make for a green company.
Hoping to move the discussion along, I went back to the Six Sins of Greenwashing report from TerraChoice for a definition.
Trek is asserting biking is the answer to many environmental and societal problems, but they aren't making specific claims - what I call the "green shadow." It looks like The Sin of Irrelevance to me. Because biking is green doesn't mean Trek is green.
For Trek to be an environmentally-friendly company, they'd need to examine their production practices, their printing, the buildings they use, how they transport product, human resources policies, sourcing policies - the whole CSR package.
The question goes right back to what's Trek's intent: Are they trying to give the entire company a green sheen with 1 World 2 Wheels? Or using savvy promoting to increase demand for their product and brand awareness?
My gut says the first, my boyfriend's says the second. Got a tie-breaking opinion?