How to Implement Greentailing in Organizations

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Implementing greentailing in an organization requires a commitment to thinking, acting, selling and conveying green in every aspect of the business. In this lesson, you'll learn more about implementing organizational greentailing.


Whole Foods isn't just a grocery store for the natural and organic crowd, rather the company truly practices what it preaches in every aspect of its business. Its core values revolve around the idea of nourishing the people and the planet, and its mission statement involves a nod to a ''sustainable future.'' Those beliefs guide the company's partnerships and commitment to its customers to provide ''the highest quality natural and organic foods.''

The popular grocer is a good example of what greentailing looks like in practice. Greentailing, which combines the environmental term ''green'' with the business term ''retailing,'' is a blending of eco-friendly initiatives and products into the retail environment. It's not simply selling green products, however, but a way of life that permeates every aspect of a business. Organizations that have committed to a greentailing culture have done so in four areas. Let's discuss those now.

Greentailing Areas

In order to truly be an organization where greentailing is significant, the business must think green, act green, sell green and convey green in all facets of the organization.

Think Green

Thinking green means that a company interweaves the idea of green and sustainability into every part of the company. Like Whole Foods, green is included in the company's mission; it's not just a stance taken as an effort to sell products or appeal to consumers.

Green thinking in an organization extends to all corners of the company's management, from the CEO to the CFO to a newly-created position inside of many organizations known as the chief sustainability officer. Dedicating a specific person to fulfill this role shows that the company is completely committed to sustainability and environmental issues as a way of life. In every area, a company that's thinking green is focused on sustainability.

Act Green

Companies must not only talk the talk in thinking green, but must walk the walk in acting green as well. These companies look for ways to incorporate sustainable efforts into their infrastructure, practices and products.

Outdoor clothing manufacturer Patagonia not only insists on responsibly-sourced materials for its clothing, but takes on a big environmental issue every year by creating an education campaign to raise awareness and donations. Inside their Nevada distribution facility, they have committed to buying electricity from only renewable energy sources, earning a LEED gold certification for its efforts. The company also encourages its employees to spend time volunteering for environmental sources and facilitates its own garment recycling program. Thus, Patagonia displays greentailing in its thoughts and actions.

Sell Green

There's no shortage of organizations attempting to sell their environmental savvy by attaching the words ''green,'' ''organic'' or ''natural'' to their products. Many retailers have been caught trying to appear green when the products they sell are, in fact, not that green at all, which is a less-than-savory practice known as greenwashing.

Retailers who have green at heart go beyond attaching a quick label that touts a product's environmental benefits, and really look for opportunities for selling green items that include at least one of the following characteristics:

  • Organic: truly organic items are regulated
  • Natural: a move toward ingredients that are organic rather than chemical
  • Sustainable: not depleting natural resources
  • Locally-sourced: using local ingredients or materials
  • Ethically-sourced: items retrieved in a fair and environmentally-safe manner
  • Environmentally-friendly: safe for the environment
  • Reusable: creates minimal waste for the user
  • Recyclable: made from recycled materials or can be recycled

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