What exactly is green fatique?
Green fatique is a phenomenon that few people are aware of. It’s one of those points where you have to look both in and out, which is a difficult balance. Green fatique is, in short, when you, your employees and your customers get tired of talk of 100% sustainability that doesn’t exist. That is, when you are suffocated, or exhausted if you like, by green initiatives and their communication.
How is it different from green washing?
The difference is a bit blurred, but the ethical aspect plays a crucial role. In greenfatique you may well be right in what you say. It need not be either completely or ethically incorrect. However, you can over-inform and use so many green buzzwords that the points get lost. That way you won’t get your message across.
You may also come across as untrustworthy, leading customers to believe that you are a greenwasher. As I said, the concepts are a bit confused, because if you use so many buzzwords that it seems unbelievable, you could also argue that it is green washing at the same time. However, it is important to stress that it is NOT.
Greenwashing is incorrect communication about green actions. Green fatique is correct, but exaggerated, green marketing.
Business example from a company
The clothing brand, ELSK ApS, ended up removing any word that had the slightest hint of sustainability from its communication. The reason for that was mainly green exhaustion. One could argue it might be an extreme decision. Further, one can argue, it might also be the wrong one.
The point is that it’s okay to communicate about sustainability if you do it in moderation. Balancing, like so much else, is of course the solution.
For ELSK, however, it was probably the right decision, because they had just been hit by the phenomenon. This allows them to continuously reintroduce green keywords when appropriate. Or even better: Get others to tell you they’re sustainable. Something that happens especially on LinkedIn:
Is green fatique a bigger threat than green washing and why avoid it?
The reason why greenfatique can be really dangerous is because it’s not just the customers who get suspicious and tired. That’s ALL of them. It can be detrimental to the entire company’s operation, vision and mission.
Green hustling can also slip into that, because eventually everyone is so tired that you completely drop communicating about the green. This is a bad idea because green marketing is about CSR, economics and business growth.
So it’s a huge threat if both you and your employees don’t believe what you’re communicating, because if you don’t believe it, why should anyone else? That’s why it pays not to smother yourself and others in green marketing. It may not be a major threat. The consequences are just different. However, they have one thing in common: the bad outcome. If you greenwasher you risk being caught in your lie, and thus end up in shitstorm or be convicted. You will certainly be condemned by the People’s Court, and it is your potential or current customers who will totally or partially drop you as a company.
The consequence of Green fatique is that no one listens and the message is lost. That way, you can do everything right, but there’s just no one to receive the good news. Therefore, you lose customers and possibly employees, as they are tired of the miscommunicated green marketing. Both lead to losses in your company, but with two different causes.
How do you avoid green fatique?
If you keep using green buzzwords, you’ll get exhausted. Balance is the key word. You therefore need to communicate very concretely about your actions, and avoid emphasising that they are green. That way you still get your message across, your customers don’t get so full that they stop listening, and you and your staff can put your name to the things you send out, with pride. Here you achieve a balance that is ideal for all parties.
Learn even more about green exhaustion
We have created a video-based online course in Green Marketing, where Green Fatique is chapter 04. Here are some good examples from ELSK and much more.
The first 200 participants get free entry. Register now at grønmarketing.dk