We live in the information age. Our surroundings deliver us an enormous volume of facts, figures and opinions. Internet, our mailboxes, company servers seem overloaded with information. In such a context what can be the added value, for any green business, when it takes the trouble to start or keep communicating about its sustainable products and services?
The answer can be summed up in a popular saying: quality over quantity. Selecting meaningful information and turning it into useful messages for the public can strengthen the business and create positive impact in the environment and society. In this insight, we name this quality-oriented approach “green communication”, an art of conveying sustainability information that evokes understanding and meaning, gains trust and relevance and, while improving the business market presence, also contributes to its corporate environment.
Analyzing the literature and present-day definitions around “green communication” can prove a challenge on its own. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “communication” is “The transmission or exchange of information, knowledge, or ideas, by means of speech, writing, mechanical or electronic media”. As much as it can be a useful start, this vast definition seems to be missing out the non-verbal and visual forms of communication. Looking at the “green” adjective, on the other hand, according to the Collins dictionary, what should come to mind are the “issues and political movements (that) relate to or are concerned with the protection of the environment”. The latter term, environment, could relate both to nature, as well as the surroundings in which a business operates, including both its social and environmental aspects.
Upon deeper search, we also find a definition of “green marketing communication” which means the advertising efforts to convey environmental benefits of products and services. This definition seems to be limiting the activity entirely to the promotional aspects, leaving out the added value the communication can bring beyond just products and services publicity. In a similar context, we also encounter the term “green communication”, related to the informatics and telecommunications, which narrows the field to the IT domain, on which we reflect a bit later in the text.
Upon consideration, none of those modern definitions seem to be entirely exhaustive. We have therefore decided to go back to the fundamentals. What does the verb “communicate” mean? Its roots in the Latin language are « com » and “munis”, translating literally as “with the people”. Also, its two closely related words, “communion” and “community”, emphasize that key idea of bringing people together. This etymology investigation seems to convey an important meaning. The communication, especially a sustainable one, is in fact deeply related with people. In a complex, fast-pacing world filled with different technologies, successful green communication requires a genuine effort to take a human-centric approach and connect with individuals receiving our message.
Seeing all the different interpretations, we found it useful to create a working definition of our own. According to Vadviam, green communication is a means of conveying sustainability, which evokes understanding and meaning, and which is beneficial to both the business and its environment. As a practice, it fundamentally revolves around creating good relationships of enterprises with their partners, society and the environment. Successful green communications contribute to trust, solid reputation, and positive impact towards the enterprise and its ecosystem.