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Brown is the New Green
By: Kaitlin T. Gallucci
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In recent years, many brands have "gone green" to improve their environmental impact. Organic, recyclable, locally-sourced — "green" takes many forms. Lately, green is turning brown.
The prevalence of the green movement has resulted in a variety of "certified" green labels popping up on all sorts of consumer products. As a result, these identifiers are becoming a bit meaningless. As The Seattle Times describes, "For example, the familiar recycling symbol showing three chasing arrows now appears on thousands of product labels, but is sometimes misleading... That symbol may just mean the package or product is technically recyclable, which is true for nearly everything. The recycling symbol on a label provides no assurance that local recycling programs accept that material.” Then how can brands prove that they are environmentally friendly? "Brown it."
You may have noticed the popularity of rough, brown paper products replacing their softer, whiter brethren. "Brown" is still no guarantee for "green," but it's a powerful visual trigger. As Dunkin Donuts Vice President of Strategic Manufacturing and Supply explained, the company switched to recycled brown napkins about three years ago partly because of what it "symbolized... [brown napkins made customers] feel like they were doing something good for the environment." Recycled paper can be white, but that's not the point. As Seventh Generation Product Director Louis Chapdelaine explained, it's important "not so much that it's brown, it's that it's not white." Seventh Generation now adds a step to its production, using brown pigments to provide that much needed "visual differentiation."
In the consumer's mind, brown is green.

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About the Author
Kaitlin T. Gallucci is a New York based direct and digital marketing strategist. She tweets here.
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