Little Green Truth?

When I decided to start this blog my focus was to discuss things that were important to me and also to share the marketing knowledge and tips I have acquired though the years. Even with my experience in social media I never expected to get so personally involved in a story that was buzzing in the twitter world. But that is exactly what happened when I recently wrote about how Seventh Generation was handling a public relations issue via twitter.

Even more than that, I never thought that I would be so publicly involved in a story about the environmental impact of diapers, but sometimes stuff happens. Full disclosure, my wife and I are planning on using cloth diapers when our second child is born this summer. I joke that it is because we are hippies, but there really is a lot more to it than that. Part of the reason we decided to go the cloth route is because we do try, as a family, to do all that we can to help the planet - but we also looked at the economic benefits of cloth diapers and that is what finally pushed us to go the cloth route.

We did consider using Seventh Generation's chlorine free diapers since (more disclosure) we do use a variety of their cleaning products. But in reality the final decision was strictly one of cost (since we thought either way we were doing the right thing for the planet.) The website diaperdecision.com breaks out the total expected cost of multiple cloth options versus standard disposable diapers. The site finds that a parent will spend roughly $900-$1,200 more for disposable diapers over the time their child will be in diapers. So we thought hey, we are doing something good for the environment and saving money in the process, it is a no lose situation.

But then a funny thing happened...Earth Day. It all started with the  premier of the Fine Living Networks "Big Green Lies." The show was created by Jeffrey Hollender, the Chief Protagonist" & CEO of Seventh Generation. In the show they discussed both sides of the argument of cloth vs disposable and in the video it appeared to many in twitterverse that BGL downplays the impact disposable diapers have in increasing waste in landfills but puts added emphasis on the fact that cloth diapers use more water in their lifetime. Thus, the show concludes the result is a tie and everyone should feel good about whichever path they chose.

I agree, nobody should be made to feel guilty about their choice, but is it fair for Jeffrey Hollender to be leading this public discourse as the show basically could act as a commercial for his products (as many people pointed out on Twitter.) Wouldn't this be akin to the CEO of a fast food chain creating a show explaining that you should not feel guilty about eating a double cheeseburger and large fries daily because he has data to prove that it isn't as bad as it seems?

So this is where my little blog comes into play. My wife is on twitter and follows multiple manufacturers and sellers of cloth diapers, she told me about a trending conversation regarding people being upset about BGL and the content on the show. So, I decided to follow the conversation and to look at Seventh Generations twitter feed to see how they were reacting - and they were reacting and doing, what I called, damage control. To be honest, I thought it was good that they were responding - they had their talking points in order and put the replies out there. I did mention that I wished the PR team luck, since as someone in the industry you never want to deal with negative PR, especially when it is coming from people who are buying your products.

Well, my article picked up some steam and was retweeted a few times (which I am thankful for, by the way.) It eventually found it's way to the people at Seventh Generation and this morning Meghan contacted me asking for a conversation. I gladly accepted Meghan's offer and we exchanged email information, so I am currently waiting for a conversation with her, or someone at Seventh Generation, to get their full side of the story and to get their answers to some questions about the cloth versus disposable debate.

In the meantime I have been doing some research, and have contacted some people on the other side of the issue and I am learning even more than I ever thought I would about diapers. I also learned about a really cool project being done by Sloomb called one diaper-one treetm. I personally found out more about this company by following their replies on twitter. 

Sloomb, was one of the more active twitterers, along with bum genius and Babyworks when diapergate hit. These companies were using the power of social media to push their issue to the forefront, and it is obviously working. 

This is why I love social media, and also why it can be scary for people who protect brands. We are able to have instant feedback on issues that impact so many and no longer can we assume that there are walls to hide behind. Hopefully I will have the follow up to this in the coming days where I can share some of the great information I have already obtained, and combine that with the information I get from Seventh Generation. I hope, in the end, that I can help clear up any confusion and can share a collection of data from all points of view so everyone can feel comfortable in the fact that they were given some Little Green Truth.

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