Right there, plain and clearly, was the admission of greenwash. The only way now to be included in Greenopia’s “Top 25 Wine Producers” guide in the future is to pay $2500. Kinda staggering, really.
Even I was duped for a minute. WineBusiness.com, a respected trade journal in the wine industry, posted a piece entitled, “Greenopia Rates Top 25 Major Wine Labels”. WineBusiness started the post with a bit of solid commentary about hurdles facing the wine industry and reducing carbon footprints. The rest of the post was merely a press release from Greenopia. I hadn’t heard of Greenopia, but their description sounded reasonable:
The leading online directory for green, sustainable and socially conscious, daily purchase decisions. Greenopia provides the market’s only independent rating and ranking of green services and products. Our rankings and ratings are based on our review of publicly available information and reflect our evaluation of such information.
But when I looked at the list of “major wine labels” I found the list to be very curious. There was only one brand I would have considered to be a top brand and many others were conspicuously missing from the list. I posted a comment and moved on.
But then, I received an email from a colleague at a winery that by all rights should have been included in such a list:
Ironically, I was cleaning out my RSS feeds and noticed your comment at the Wine Business blog about Greenopia’s listing of green wine brands. As you can imagine, I dropped them a line making the same points you did, and including evidence as to why we might be included next time they update their listings.
My colleague then forwarded me Greenopia’s response. The key points were:
- Greenopia guides have been featured in all sorts of major media that would be valuable coverage for a winery.
- Guides are updated annually and, up until this point, they have maintained a policy of not allowing any additional companies to be included after the launch. The reason for this is “the substantial time and research costs needed to update our guides.”
- But, because of the tremendous interest by many companies to be listed, Greenopia has decided to offer the option for inclusion to any of their guides for a fee to cover the research, data collection, and administrative costs.
- The total cost to be added to the guide is $2,500.
What’s wrong with that, you say? First, consumers lose because eco-labels and eco-guides are confusing and we all end up skeptical of sustainable products. But also, wineries that engage in sustainable practices who cannot afford to or don’t want to buy their way into corporate guides suffer because eco-guide listings that can be bought for a fee erode consumer confidence. The real damage comes when consumers take the next step and diminish the value of legitimate environmental practices. For that, this kind of greenwash is unconscionable.