Just as your parents used to say about your latest fib, honesty is the best policy to ensure you are a trustworthy individual. For companies, honesty can go a long way in ensuring your environmentally conscious consumers trust you and do not leave for competitors.

Greenwashing is when a company claims green or sustainable products and initiatives that are exaggerated, vague, or outright false. It goes clearly against what parents and teachers have been preaching for years. So why do organizations engage in greenwashing? What are its pitfalls? How can it be avoided to help your marketing efforts in establishing your organization as a green, sustainable-minded enterprise? And most importantly, what are the benefits of communication and marketing that customers can trust?

On Thursday January 17th, Sustainable Waterloo Region will be hosting an educational forum for organizations and businesses in the community to tackle these questions. Titled , the forum’s two guest speakers will share their experience in engaging their organizations in open communication with customers about their sustainability.

Scott McDougall was the founder of the successful consulting firm TerraChoice Group Inc., which has focused on sustainability certification and marketing for the past 13 years. They are particularly well known for their “The Sins of Greenwashing” campaign which has been instrumental in showing the various ways that companies’ marketing can mislead consumers with untrue claims regarding their environmental impact. As an expert in the field, Scott will provide advice on the importance of credible communication and how clients in the past have promoted their sustainability initiatives through open and transparent communication.

The second speaker, David Robinson, is the Regional Sustainability and Community Coordinator for Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada regions for Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC). He will be discussing the many ways that MEC has provided accountability for their customers in what they do and how they operate as a company. The impact that MEC has made through their sustainability initiatives can be a model for Waterloo Region’s diverse companies and organizations.

The two speakers effectively balance their expertise in the issue: the consultant who worked with companies on how to avoid greenwashing and maintain an open communication with customers, and a man who is helping to implement these ideas in a successful company across Canada.

As this discussion of credibility and trust unfolds, I look forward to the stories that will be shared between members and the questions posed that will lead to mutual gain. These events are always a chance to learn more about this wonderful community we live in and the people that make it great. So whether you are proud of your organization’s carpool program, use of sustainably produced materials for packaging or are just starting to think about sustainable changes that could be incorporated, Sustainable Waterloo Region invites you to join share these stories and learn how to use these to your marketing advantage. We look forward to a vibrant and collaborative atmosphere that will continue to build the sustainable community in Waterloo Region.

Register .