What are true green initiatives versus “greenwashing” ideas?

What are true green initiatives versus “greenwashing” ideas?

CUTCO Corporation, the largest manufacturer and marketer of high-quality kitchen cutlery and accessories in the United States and Canada, celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2009. Over 100 kitchen cutlery products are sold under the CUTCO name as well as a variety of kitchen gadgets, utensils, and flatware. The company also carries a line of cookware, sporting/pocket knives, and garden tools.

Boasting over 15 million satisfied customers and annual sales of over $200 million, CUTCO’s commitment to quality and innovation is evident throughout the manufacture and marketing of company products. CUTCO stands behind each and every product with a FOREVER satisfaction guarantee. The guarantee has four components:

1. FOREVER Performance Guarantee
2. FOREVER Sharpness Guarantee
3. FOREVER Replace Service Agreement for Misuse or Abuse
4. 15-Day Unconditional Money Back Guarantee
The company’s FOREVER guarantee ensures that CUTCO cutlery stays in the family for generations to come. Given this backdrop of the company’s high-quality product offering in difficult economic times, the company initiated a “going green” effort in 2008.

Everyone, from individual consumers to corporate decision makers, is talking about sustainability, going green, and reducing the carbon footprint. However, some companies’ efforts are more “greenwashing” than truly intended for the well-being of the environment. Greenwashing is what companies do (e.g., promotional efforts) to make themselves look more environmentally friendly than they really are.

For the CUTCO Corporation, however, the plan is not for a “go-green project” or to engage in “greenwashing.” Rather, the company is instilling “going green” initiatives that, like the product’s FOREVER guarantee, stay with the company forever. In 2008, CUTCO Corporation’s marketing coordinator, Pam Bailey, was given the opportunity to create and coordinate a companywide “Going Green” effort. The focus initially was the “low hanging fruit” (things that were easy to do). One year later, Bailey, the Green Team, and CUTCO Corporation had accomplished the following:

1. Implemented computer power management–estimated savings of $41,000 annually.
2. Turned off center row lighting on one floor of administration building–estimated savings of $7,500 annually.
3. Created a recycling program to collect plastic, glass, aluminum, and tin cans as well as reuse or recycling of Cutco product components–all resulting in a 26 percent decrease in trash from all CUTCO facilities.
4. Set company printers to automatically duplex; departments switched to two-sided reports–paper use decreased by 27 percent.
5. Printed company newsletter on 50-percent recycled paper
6. Encouraged its 75 employees to bring their own reusable plates, cups, and utensils to the Christmas lunch–resulting in only two bags of garbage from the party.
CUTCO Corporation’s “Going Green. Going Forward” effort is part and parcel of the company’s internal processes, and the company plans to continually work toward going green. It is not holding itself up as a company that has “gone green,” nor is it touting its initiatives externally. Rather, like the CUTCO product, the results will speak for themselves.


The Cutco case deals with the marketing environment surrounding green initiatives and the skills marketers need in today’s changing workplace. You will assume the role of a new marketing manager at a local light bulb manufacturing company. Your boss has read a story about the green initiatives at Cutco and wants you to prepare an executive memo on some initiatives that could be considered for your company.
Your memo should address the following questions:

1. What are true green initiatives versus “greenwashing” ideas?
2. What are the ethical and societal issues involved in green initiatives?
3. How have other organizations approached the issue of green initiatives?
Develop a response that includes examples and evidence to support your ideas, and which clearly communicates the required message to your audience. Organize your response in a clear and logical manner as appropriate for the genre of writing. Use well-structured sentences, audience-appropriate language, and correct conventions of standard American English.