Trendy Trendy Green

6.6.2008
by gregor

Rampant Greenwashing forces us to keep it real

Lately Green has become the envy of all of the other colors as its meteoric rise in popularity has left even perennial favorite black in the dust. Green is the color of jealousy, inexperience and gills after a night of drinking. To Americans green is of course the color of money and has also become the trendiest color in Hollywood as everyone from George Clooney to Scarlet Johansson publicly endorse sustainability. It’s the combination of earning potential and hype that is starting to cause some serious concern as companies scramble to publicly announce their Green credentials. So called Greenwashing is nothing new…oil companies have used photos of beautiful landscapes to sell gasoline for decades but never have so many companies in so many different fields announced their sustainability in such an arbitrary way.

With no governing Green body politic for most industries can anyone just decide to be green? What does it entail? What kind of changes need to be implemented in order for a company to really be sustainable? My mother worries that the trend will end as people get sick of hearing about it and I agree, when Paris Hilton announces publicly that she is starting a new line of green heiress cosmetics will we all run to our local Hummer dealer to separate ourselves from the hype?

Not only is the travel industry no exception but it is perhaps the worst offender. When we started putting all of our properties together for Global Basecamps we really wanted to avoid calling ourselves an eco travel company in order to avoid having to explain ourselves or our definition of sustainable. Having worked on several conservation projects over the years and having seen both successful eco-lodges and ridiculous greenwashing it didn’t make sense to me to get into a debate about what constituted a sustainable property. My rationale was that we would simply work with companies that were responsible citizens of the planet, highlight eco-minded properties wherever possible and keep a product line that also included non-sustainable hotels if they were unique enough. We’ve changed our minds and the reason why is very simple. With no universally accepted criteria for sustainability tour operators, hotels and entire consortiums have started making and more importantly marketing claims that have inspired us to do it for real and to do it right. Global Basecamps is going 100% sustainable and we want you to come along for the ride. We’re going to make it very clear what our criteria is and what we expect from the products and services we sell and we’re going to cull the properties that fit the bill, which we estimate at about a third of our hotels. It’ll be more than a little bit painful at times (ciao beautiful design hotel in Venice) but we think it’s best for our clients, the industry and the planet. We want to give credit where credit is due and force change by funneling dollars to those who really deserve it. We’ll keep you informed on the process and I hope that it’s as painless as it is necessary. Yes, Green is the new black and no doubt extremely trendy but it doesn’t have to be painful, unlike the parachute pants and fat laces we wore in High School.

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