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Spring into Your Marketing Campaigns with Green Tips for Earth Day and Every Day

By Lisa Shosteck

As we approach Earth Day, April 22, 2023, it is a good time to act as businesses, organizations, and consumers to maximize our limited resources, reduce our carbon footprint, and build trust in our industry as one that respects the environment.

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the impact that companies are having on the environment. In fact, 81% of people throughout the world expect businesses to be environmentally conscious in all of their advertising and marketing activities. (BusinessDIT). Companies and organizations need to prioritize sustainability in their advertising. But it's not enough to simply talk about being green, you need to be able to back up environmental goals and aspirations with concrete actions.

Actionable Items for Businesses/Organizations

With 92% of consumers more likely to trust a brand that is environmentally and socially conscious, consumers are actively seeking companies and organizations that step-up their sustainability efforts:

  • Use eco-friendly packaging and sustainable sources
  • Are responsive to consumers' priorities in protecting the environment and reducing their carbon footprint
  • Are transparent and accurate in sustainability efforts (do not over-promise and under-deliver — this is considered greenwashing, and the Federal Trade Commission has enforcement cases citing this deceptive practice.)

We would like to highlight one important and consistent issue that consumers are most interested in — how to reduce unwanted promotional mail. Many consumers contact us to reduce mailings because of their concern with unwanted mail and its impact on the environment. We invite consumers to read, respond and recycle their mail, but for those that seek to opt-out of future offerings, ANA offers a do not mail service — DMAchoice.org to assist both businesses and consumers in honoring marketing choices and building trust in the industry. All companies should use this file to reduce their own carbon footprint by mailing less unwanted or misdirected mail through list hygiene via DMAchoice.org.

In the world of digital, advertisers can also make a difference. Companies need to understand their carbon impacts right through to the end user. DIMPACT — a study backed by a consortium of leading broadcasters, publishers, digital companies, and media agencies — is seeking to produce the first comprehensive analysis of digital media's carbon footprint, upstream and down, including its advertising components.

Although it is complicated to truly understand the full impact of digital advertising on the environment, you can review your own processes and those you partner with to see if there's a way to minimize your carbon footprint. This can include the traditional areas such as your own office infrastructure and resources as well the digital services you deliver. Some areas to consider:

  • Are your processes streamlined?
  • How many steps and partners are in the process to deliver the ads?
  • Can you reduce your carbon footprint by reducing how many layers are in the process?
  • Are you maximizing your campaign's effectiveness?

Companies are stepping forward with tools to assist digital advertisers in analyzing their campaigns' impact on the environment. For example, Dentsu announces "pioneering" tool to highlight carbon impact of advertising; and Sharethrough launches carbon emissions estimator to raise awareness about environmental impact of digital advertising campaigns.

Increased consumption of digital services — advertising, publishing, broadcasting — is leading to an increase in the energy use and carbon footprint of the digital media sector and although it's harder to "see" there is still an impact and you can be part of the solution. Learn more and connect with the ANA Society and Sustainability Collective.

FTC Activity

Greenwashing Claims

A growing area of concern for the Federal Trade Commission is greenwashing - where companies make environmental claims that are not true or not the whole truth. Making these claims without substantiation can run afoul of these rules, as much as companies want to do the right thing and promote being "green."

In recent cases under review by the FTC, two major retailers claimed bamboo-related products were free of harmful chemicals and used clean and non-toxic materials. However, the products were made from rayon (derived from bamboo) which used toxic chemicals in the process.


The U.S. Department of Justice filed claims on behalf of the FTC, citing Kohl's to pay $2.5 million in penalties and Walmart to pay $3 million in penalties and to stop making unsubstantiated green marketing claims.

If you are making environmental claims, be sure you are providing honest, accurate and complete notice. Review industry guidelines as a guidepost.

Green Guides

  • The FTC is reviewing and potentially updating the "Green Guides" — guidance offered to help marketers avoid making environmental claims that are unfair or deceptive under Section 5 of the FTC Act. The FTC is accepting comments until April 24th, 2023. ANA is submitting comments to the FTC — if you would like to learn more or connect with ANA on this issue, contact staff.
  • On May 23rd, the FTC is hosting a hybrid workshop: Talking Trash at the FTC: Recyclable Claims and the Green Guides.

ANA respects consumers' marketing preferences and offers our signature do not mail service to allow consumers to reduce unwanted promotional offers they receive. It also is a tool to add deceased individuals, elderly or others in your care that have health-related challenges and need greater control over the mailed offers they receive. You can sign-up at DMAchoice.org.

Additional Resources:

Upcoming Events:

  • Join our April 20th Webinar: Your Green Toolkit for Earth Day and Every Day — The ANA's Center for Ethical Marketing teams up with the Sustainability Collective to discuss why it's important to prioritize the environment in advertising and how companies can effectively communicate sustainability efforts to their customers. We'll pack your toolkit with compliance tools, tips, and best practices.

If you have questions or want to get more involved in marketing and ethics, please contact ethics@ana.net. We look forward to collaborating with you in our shared efforts to ensure good business practices, consumer protection in the marketplace, and consumer trust by providing accountability.


"ETHICS ALERT: Spring into Your Marketing Campaigns with Green Tips for Earth Day and Every Day." Lisa Brown Shosteck, ANA Center for Ethical Marketing, 4/6/22.