If you are proud of what you are doing, why keep it quiet? Green hushing
by Steve Pearce
Head of Marketing
Kyocera Group UK
What is it?
The term greenhushing was coined in a blog article by consulting firm Treehugger in 2008. It has become part of the corporate lexicon since 2022 and refers to companies who have decided to remain silent about their environmental initiatives and achievements.
Why are companies remaining silent?
Following a number of scandals where firms have been criticised for exaggerating their green credentials and have been castigated (and rightfully so) by society in general for greenwashing; a number of companies have taken the decision to stop talking about their activities and practices for fear of garnering unwanted attention.
This fear of being called out is also linked to the political climate, where in some countries having sustainability goals are seen as being woke and should not be celebrated.
Fear. Companies are crippled by being tarnished as ‘Greenwashers’. I don’t believe this fear will help us reverse “global boiling”. Companies must overcome this fear and share what steps, however small, they are making towards a brighter future.
Are their benefits to doing so?
Basically, that’s a big no, it is considered to be as bad as greenwashing for a number of reasons.
Being silent about a huge global issue means that there is less impact and inspiration. All companies no matter what size should be talking about the part they are playing to reduce their global impact, ideas should be shared and can lead to sparks of imagination that can lead to new ways of reducing our environmental impact.
The lack of truthful information can lead to mistrust from buyers interested in sustainability. How can a potential client compare services if some of the companies they are looking at refuse to talk about their initiatives. There needs to be a level playing ground.
There is a belief in some quarters that greenhushing is a type of greenwashing because companies are hiding by being quietly conscientious. Vagueness creates the belief that companies can be more or less sustainable that they really are. Stand up, be accountable.
Should companies be embracing their green accomplishments?
Whilst its understandable that companies are reticent about their initiatives and achievements, remaining silent is not the solution. There will always be criticism, however we should not hide away but should be taking a positive approach.
Being transparent is key, not every company can get behind big initiatives so rather make small little steps. Customers appreciate companies being truthful and not overegging the pudding.
Not everything we do is perfect, admitting when there is an issue and talking about what you are going to do to resolve them engenders trust. Just talking about the positives leads customers to question your motives.
Becoming totally sustainable will not happen overnight, for some companies this will be a long-term goal.
Here at Kyocera, we published our first carbon reduction plan last year (2022), announcing that we have offset the entirety of our UK operations CO2 emissions and will continue to do so. We do however recognise that using offset is a carbon-reduction migration strategy and remain committed to taking steps to ultimately reduce our emissions to a minimum and thereby reduce the resulting offset required. A good example of this is we are proud to announce we reduced our own office printing by 15% over last year, which is a huge achievement. Reducing paper usage is just one example of us ‘eating our own dog food’ in the office environment.
The paper we did use was all reforested in the UK, in partnership with PrintReleaf who are planting trees in Antrim, Northern Ireland. We’ve recently rolled out the reforesting of all paper used by our customers on our production printer range too. So as I type we have reforested 11,570 trees, the equivalent of three Craven Cottages of native forest (that’s football stadiums to those unaccustomed to top flight football grounds).
We offset our emissions through our work with myclimate whose high-quality projects promote quantifiable climate protection and greater sustainability worldwide. myclimate has developed and supported 197 climate protection projects in 45 countries around the world since its foundation in 2002. Emissions are reduced there by replacing fossil energy resources with renewable energies, and by implementing local afforestation measures with smallholder farmers and energy-efficient technologies. myclimate climate protection projects meet the highest standards (Gold Standard, Plan Vivo), which are not only proven to reduce greenhouse gases locally and regionally, but also make a positive contribution to sustainable development.
Although we have achieved much (and I am very happy to share and talk about that) we do have a long way to go. We are after all a print manufacturer and although 99% of our devices can be recycled, we do need to increase the amount of recycled material that is used to build them.
‘This is a marathon not a sprint, but we are in the race, wearing bright green, doing good and running with pride. With a steely determination to raise awareness for the good causes we believe in.’
We are taking action to offset our UK operation’s carbon by working with partners to reforest our paper use and by funding carbon-reducing projects around the world. By carbon offsetting Scope 1+2 and certain Scope 3 GHG-emissions 2021/2022, we are proud to be carbon neutral.
We are structuring our Social Responsibility Goals for the UK in support of six UN Sustainable Development Goal, which aligns with our philosophy of “Do the right thing as a human being”.