Classroom Resources: Green Giants

By George Monbiot
April-June (Vol. 8, No. 2)

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Discussion Questions

  • What do you think it should mean for a company to be “green’?  How might this be the same or different than what the company itself might think it means?
  • Corporate “greening” suggests that environmental protection can be achieved through making the engines of economic growth more responsive to the environmental consequences of production and consumption.  Yet some economists have argued that economic growth itself is in inherent conflict with environmental protection, and that the only path to a sustainable future is through a steady-state economy.  How do you feel about these two points of view?  Are there alternatives to the economic growth vs. steady-state economy models?
  • Labeling of products as being green or carbon neutral is similar to earlier efforts to label foods as “organic,” “natural,” or “healthy.”  Yet such labels were sometimes applied in a deceitful way as a marketing strategy.  This makes it worthwhile to ask, how can a consumer really know whether corporate claims of being “green” are true?

Websites for Further Information

Corporate “Greening” in the News

  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/17/business/businessspecial2/17ewaste.html
    ?ex=1177128000&en=a7120d6f2efda64d&ei=5070
  2. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/contentarticle/2007/04/18/AR2007041800561.html

Peer-reviewed Literature

  • Preuss, L. 2005. Rhetoric and reality of corporate greening: a view from the supply chain management function. Business Strategy & the Environment 14: 123-139
  • Talyarkhan, V. 2006. Scores on the stores. Green Futures. Nov/Dec 2006: 10

Key Concepts

  • Corporate “greening”
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Environmental marketing
  • Steady-state economy
  • Consumer campaigns

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