Earth Day Fail: Pitches that Miss the Mark

Last year, we had a bit of fun with some of the more out-there Earth Day pitches -- see "You're Doing it Wrong: Five Earth Day Pitches that Failed." It was all in good-natured fun, and was a nice way to blow off some of the Earth Day related overload, so we thought we'd do it again this year.

We had no idea what we were getting into.

No doubt due in large part to Earth Day's 40th anniversary, as well as the steady -- if painfully, terrifyingly slow -- march toward greener companies and greener individuals, what was last year a steady stream of announcements tied (reasonably or not) to Earth Day, this year became a deluge.

To wit: Between March 1 and April 22, 2009, I received 77 emails promoting a company's Earth Day efforts.

In 2010, not only did the message barrage begin in February ("Christmas creep" comes to Earth Day), but I currently have 287 emails about Earth Day in my inbox.

As a result, I'm afraid we're not going to be able to do a pithy Top 5 (or Bottom 5, as the case may be) for Earth Day Fails this year -- there is just far too much material to work with.

That said, below are some of the notable notes that landed at GreenBiz.com world headquarters during Earth Season 2010. Enjoy, and if you have any other egregious examples, please link to them in the comments or send us an email.

Shopping Our Way to Sustainability

Let's just get this out of the way up front: Shopping promotions for Earth Day are ubiquitous but unacceptable. Surely, the argument can be made that getting people to buy greener products is better than buying the alternative, but using April 22 to drive sales not only misses the point, but defeats the purpose.

Perhaps the Buy Nothing Day organizers would earn a more receptive audience by shifting from its current post-Thanksgiving Black Friday to Earth Day....

That said, here are some of the most egregious shopping and product-promo pitches for Earth Day 2010:

Buy a non-efficient lightbulb, get an efficient lightbulb that you don't want and won't use, for free! Rejuvenation, a company that makes lighting and fixtures for older, hard-to-find lighting systems, had the befuddling idea to send out free (unsolicited) CFLs to customers with every purchase of another, potentially non-energy efficient, lightbulb. The truly befuddling part is that the company is pitching this promotion as an "offset" for their own emissions -- as if 1 + 1 = 0.

Celebrate Earth Day 2010 with PoopBags. Biodegradable doggie-waste bag manufacturer aims to promote green living with an e-bike giveaway, and by handing out free PoopBags.

The 10 green schwag items you'll be getting for the next year. The Advertising Specialty Institute has developed a list of the 10 products that are best suited for "eco-friendly giveaways" for this year. They include:
1. Elephant-Poo Notebook ("The ultimate recycled item")
5. Recycled Tires Jar Opener
6. Pine Tree Seedling (These really took off -- see below)
7. Organic T-shirt (Ditto)
8. Compostable Pens (What?)

• Sublime to Connect with Celebrities for Earth Day's 40th Anniversary. Apparently, they will connect by handing out unsolicited "Imprint Comfort Mats" to Justin Timberlake, Penelope Cruz and Leonardo DiCaprio. No details are given, either about the mats, their "eco" properties, or how the celebrities will receive said mats.

Make your office slightly greener. Office Depot launched a new site to promote greener office products. And while most offices could use all the help in the world reducing their impacts, this promotion only highlights how far we have to come: One of the highlighted products is an 18-pad pack of post-it notes that contain a whopping 30 percent post-consumer recycled content.

On Earth Day, Use Your 'Green' to Purchase Sustainable Wines. After this holiday season, I'm certain to take Oregon Certified Sustainable Wine up on their pitch.

Next Page: What's up with all these trees?