Online buzz around sustainability grew 50% in 2007, as people use the internet to air concern about green-related issues, focusing primarily on personal actions for the environment (e.g., recycling, carpooling, avoiding excess packaging) – noted Nielsen Online in a recent report (pdf).
Top 10 Sustainability Topics
Topics ranked by number of messages among sustainability bloggers, Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2007 (“buzz trend” reflects change between the beginning of the year and yearend):
Among the increasingly popular topics:
- Renewable energy/alternative fuels
- Resource conservation
“As in many sectors, consumers are becoming increasingly vocal online about the issue of sustainability,” said Jessica Hogue, research director, Nielsen Online. “Blogger attention to related issues like pollution, toxins and sustainable agriculture reveal an important intersection between personal health and environmental wellness.”
Top Sustainability Blogs
Blogs ranked by number of messages about sustainability, Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2007:
- TreeHugger (Discovery Channel) had 4,612 messages related specifically to sustainability, making it the top sustainability blog in 2007.
- Worldchanging took the No. 2 spot (738 messages), followed by Biopact (722) and The Oil Drum (706).
Consumers are holding corporations accountable for actions and results, as well as expecting consistent authentic and transparent messaging about company practices, Nielsen said.
Bloggers are quick to expose attempts at?”greenwashing” – when a company misrepresents its environmental impact with an aggressive PR campaign. Some 25% of online greenwashing discussion focused on companies’ self-contradicting actions and 19% on false/misleading comments:
Similar environmental initiatives by different companies?can prompt different consumer responses, depending on company reputation and history. For example, when Wal-Mart and Target both introduced reusable shopping bags, Wal-Mart’s association with environmental, labor, and healthcare issues caused consumers to voice skepticism and doubt about the new initiative.