Marketing firm helping to green companies--and their images, too

San Francisco communications firm is offering a free certification program that shows companies how to help the environment and their own eco-reputations.

Hanna Sistek
3 min read

This post was updated at 11:55 a.m. PDT to better describe the scope of TCG's work. It was also updated at 12:52 p.m. PDT with the corrected spelling on Clare Munn's name. We also corrected the photo credit and Sandhu Gurkirpal's title, both of which had been provided incorrectly by a company representative.

The Communication Group, a San Francisco-based marketing firm, isn't just about touting its clients' environmental friendliness. It's about showing them how to be more environmentally friendly.

Clare Munn
TCG CEO Clare Munn Clinton Fein

The firm, also known as TCG, is helping corporations take their first green steps through what it calls its Green Prepare program, a 12-step process for companies to become greener. The program was the brainchild of TCG Chief Executive Clare Munn, who had run a similar type of eco-labeling program for companies in Zimbabwe before the country's economy collapsed. After starting TCG and going through the tedious green certification process, she realized that there might be a market for eco-labeling here, too.

In the first stage of the Green Prepare program, a TCG consultant does a walk-through of a client's office or workplace and comes up with 12 steps for sparing the environment. The steps might include simple fixes like, for offices, making sure printers are set on double-sided printing and using recycled paper, and that there's a cartridge toner/battery recycling system in place. Other steps might be using filters on water taps for getting drinking water rather than buying water in plastic bottles, or using energy-efficient light bulbs. Nothing revolutionary, but still things that might be neglected in many workplaces.

When the company has completed 6 of the 12 steps, it signs TCG's "Blue Step Promise" to strive to complete the rest and is awarded a certificate and logo in return that the company can then display.

The idea is that the Green Prepare program might also serve as the first step for corporations that want to become green-certified through other regional programs, Munn said.

Livermore, Calif.-based skincare product company GS Cosmeceutical, which used TCG to develop its Web site, recently got involved in the Green Prepare program.

"It has been an eye-opener," said Sandhu Gurkirpal, the company's chief operating officer. He became more aware, for example, that computers should be disposed of via certified green network recyclers.

Gurkirpal is also considering changing the company's cleaning process for the pots used in making its skin care products. Today the pots are boiled, but they might as well be high-pressure steamed, he said, which could save both water and energy.

GS Cosmeceutical has also become a supporting member of OASIS, or the Organic and Sustainable Industry Standards, which helps determine when products can be called organic. Gurkipal emphasized that the company's recent efforts are about more than image and helping the environment. "We wouldn't be doing this if we didn't think we could save money."

The next step for him is to figure out what TCG calls the company's "green story"--something a company already does for the environment that can be used as part of its overall communications strategy. Maybe it's using energy from renewable sources or furniture from recycled material, or maybe it's creating an incentive program that encourages employees to identify practices that aren't environmentally sound.

While all the Green Prepare services up to this point are free, TCG will charge for creating and communicating the green stories. These, however, are not compulsory to create.