Jacquie Ottman's
Green Marketing Blog

How Far, Pray Tell?

How far have your products traveled from manufacturing plant or farmer's field to market? Perhaps it's time to tell your consumer. In a marketplace where more and more consumers want to know their carbon footprint, and the marketers themselves are often confused about how to craft their sustainability messages, meaningful, easy-to-understand information is at a premium. Too many think, for instance, that bamboo (which travels 6,000 miles to get to your floor) and fair trade bananas are going to "save the planet," when the truth is that locally procured alternatives are the better environmental bet.

Finding ways to let consumers discover one simple determinant of sustainability such as “miles traveled” in a creative, distinguishing way would not only be enlightening to consumers, but also satisfying to marketing communicators. Who among us, after all, would give up the chance to have our company’s sustainability story told be a real-live local farmer, a fourth-generation manufacturer of vacuum cleaners, or a local designer or one-off pieces of jewelry?

If this sounds a little offbeat for many of you who meet the needs of mainstream consumers, consider that Timberland has recently introduced the equivalent of a "nutritional label" to their shoe boxes, complete with information on the energy used to manufacture the enclosed product as well as the amount of renewable energy. Disclosing "miles traveled" would simply take such information one step further to clarity for consumers.

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