vegetable-oil.jpgGreat Lakes Brewing Company, a microbrewery in Cleveland, is taking the green brewing initiative a step farther by fueling its vehicles with straight vegetable oil. Yes, you read it right – vegetable oil.

With this information, please take a moment to realize how massive the green movement has become. Now, simply just brewing green beer can be considered mediocre. Companies, like Great Lakes, are taking it to the next level: the cutting edge of sustainability.

At first, the alternative fuel started as a tactic for publicity and customer relations. Great Lakes developed the “Fatty Wagon,” a van that runs on vegetable oil, which shuttles its glbc_5.jpgcustomers to and from the Cleveland Indians games.

The van proved that vegetable oil was not only cheaper than gas and diesel, but it elicited better gas mileage, better air quality and better lubrication of fuel injectors. In addition, the exhaust smoke gives off the ever-so-tasty smell of french fries. Don’t let the aroma temp you though because indulging in McDonalds French Fries wouldn’t really go with an organic diet.

After witnessing the benefits of the alternative fuel, Great Lakes decided to convert one of its semi-trucks to run on straight vegetable oil. Now, not only does this truck distribute beer made from organic products, the delivery truck utilizes a sustainable fuel method.

truck.jpgAnd just a FYI to my older audience, a truck that delivers beer and smells like french fries while doing it is most likely to appear on a college student’s list of top ten inventions.

But on the serious side, what makes this a PR lesson is that Great Lakes Brewing was not shy about going green. The company not only understood the value of going green in terms of the environment, but it also understood the value of going green in terms of publicity without greenwashing. Great Lakes launched an advertising and marketing campaign to alert the world about its adoption of truly green tactics.

Along with alternative fuels, Great Lakes Brewing Company has an energy efficient cooling system. The system was designed to bring in cold air during the winter months to cool the beer.

Other sustainability tactics utilized from Great Lakes range from the use of organic mushrooms and all-natural meat, dairy and produce on its Brewpub menu to recycling cardboard, glass, plastic, steel/aluminum, paper and brewer’s barley, reducing trash removal fee by 40%. See a more in-depth explanation of its green methods here.

So the next time your chugging – I mean slowly enjoying a Great Lakes brew, take the time to cheers the company for making an extraordinary effort in going green.


leo2.jpgIf you have been alive for the past year and a half, you have noticed that things are a little greener in America. Branded as “going green” or the “green movement,” a sustainability revolution has swept our nation. From corporations to celebrities, an obsession exists to ensure the future of our world through environment-saving tactics.

But why this sudden concern with the environment?

In an interview with Fortune magazine’s Nina Easton, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “We now know that what we’ve done in the past 100 years has caused such unbelievable damage to the world. We didn’t know better, but now we do, and now it’s not okay. There are certain things we know will happen in the next 30 to 40 years if we don’t roll it back.”

terminator1.jpgHopefully, past terminator, current governor is right, and the driving force behind this new revolution is sincere concern with sustaining the resources of our world. But as the new trend continues to increase in size, mainly due to media and celebrity fury, concern arises that it’s not the future, but the current fad.

In an ABC News article, Will Going Green Lose Some Gusto,”author Ashley Phillips states, “…some experts say that the current incarnation of the green movement is just another “We Are the World” moment that consumers and businesses won’t be able to sustain over the long term.”

In addition, many companies are even accused of “greenwashing,” publicizing environmental greenwash1.jpgpractices when in actuality the product, service or practice is unsustainable. Watchdog group, CorpWatch, even gives out bimonthly Greenwash Awards, highlighting “corporations that put more money, time and energy into slick PR campaigns aimed at promoting their eco-friendly images, than they do to actually protecting the environment.”

As public relations practitioners (or soon to be), we seem to have ourselves in another conundrum. If we ignore the going green trend, our clients, as well as ourselves, may be seen as environment-bashing, future-ruining, trash-throwing a**holes, advocating complete destruction of the world. On the other hand, if we embrace the trend, our sustainability tactics may be scrutinized as publicity stunts created by those timeless “spin doctors,” who mislead the public for economic gain.

So how do we find an environmental equilibrium?

This blog is going to attempt to answer that question as I take an indepth look at the green movement’s affect on public relations and marketing. Greener PRactices will debut PR’s version of sustainability as public relations professionals struggle to keep their balance on the green bandwagon.