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Can a Company’s Online Reputation Tell You How Green They Are?

As the environment becomes a bigger area of concern, many consumers are looking for companies that subscribe to “green” practices and provide products that are good for the planet.  As a result, businesses are jumping on this trendy bandwagon and claiming that their goods and services are earth-friendly—regardless of whether it’s true. This has caused earth-conscious shoppers to turn to the Internet to check out companies’ reputations before they buy. 

A company’s online reputation is not only determined by the content on its own website, but also links to other companies’ websites, online endorsements and advertising, posts on social media, and consumer reviews.

So, when you’re looking to find an environmentally responsible company, can you trust the Internet to help you choose the most “green” business?

YES

A company’s online presence can tell you a great deal about its values and dedication to the environment. Start by looking at the company’s main website and reading its “About Us” page or mission statement for information about its policies, business practices, and commitment to the planet. Look for any seals of approval from reputable organizations or mentions of donations to environmental causes. 

You can also learn more about a company by researching the websites and businesses that it endorses.  Pay attention to the external sites linked to the company’s main page and its business partners. Additionally, take notice of the advertisements on the company’s website as well as the sites on which its ads appear. If the environment is truly a company’s top priority, it should be connected to other businesses with the same values. 

Another way to gain insight into a company is to check out independent consumer review sites such as Yelp, CitySearch, and Angie’s List, which allow you to access ratings and evaluations by actual customers. Type in the name of the company that you’re interested in to see the opinions of your peers and get a better idea of its green status. 

NO

A company’s online reputation may not tell you the complete story about its commitment to the environment. As more and more consumers make online purchases and turn to the Internet for information, businesses are more closely monitoring their online reputation. Many companies have employees who manage online accounts and some even employ outside services, such as Reputation.com, to identify and delete any unwanted or negative online content so that only the most positive reviews and content are on the top-ranked search engine pages.

Businesses can also manipulate their image and appear more earth-friendly by linking to websites of environmental organizations or political causes without asking permission from these sites. Companies may even seek out advertising from genuine green businesses in order to legitimize their environmental claims. 

Unfortunately, some companies are also boosting their online reputations with phony customer reviews. These businesses may offer compensation for customers who write positive online reviews or may even rely on reviews written by employees to improve their ratings. This falsely inflates the company’s status and makes unsuspecting consumers believe they are making a choice that is good for the planet.

 

While a company’s online reputation can give you some insight into its environmental practices, it may not give you the whole story. To truly determine how green a company is, you may need to do some research on outside sites like GreenerChoices.org (from Consumer Reports), ClimateCounts.org, or greenpages.org.

If possible, do some research on the company you’re interested in by asking for the opinions of friends and colleagues who have used its services, speaking with employees, and searching news sites for articles about the company’s actions. While no company is perfect, there are many businesses that are actively working to improve their practices and products in order to care for the planet.

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Stephanie Marbukh is a freelance blogger who writes about the importance of online reputations, home organization, and tips for saving money.