Green Economy, Green Business and Green Marketing: definitions and examples

Aug 11, 2021 | written by:

Green marketing, green branding, green business, green economy.
Relatives of the same family, but still different, these terms are often mistakenly used as synonyms.

Let's try to better understand what we are talking about, starting at the beginning.

Green Economy: what is it?

The green economy is a development strategy that pursues growth in economic terms through moderate use of the resources offered by the environment.

We can put it this way: in the green economy, consumers and companies ask themselves not only "how much does this product and service cost me?", but also "how much does it cost the planet?".

This is a small Copernican revolution, in which business models no longer focus solely on human beings, but broaden the horizon to include animals, ecosystems and the climate.

Over the last decade, the concept of the green economy has emerged as a strategic priority for many governments, but the challenge has also been taken up by many companies aiming to adopt a green business model.

Green Business: what is it?

Green Business is defined as a business model that, while pursuing profit, aims to minimize its impact on the planet.

Companies that adopt the Green Business model know their every decision leaves an impact on the environment and on people, and that this impact can be negative or positive.

In practice, this can be done in a variety of ways, from optimizing their production chain to minimizing their waste, reducing their carbon footprint, and conducting awareness campaigns among employees and customers.

The B Corp Certification was created to enhance and promote this new way of doing business. Treedom is a B Corp since 2014, precisely because with its activity of planting trees it is committed to bringing social, environmental, and economic benefits.

Green Marketing: what is it?

Green Marketing (AKA Environmental Marketing or Ecological Marketing) develops and promotes products or services based on environmental sustainability.

When a company's green marketing activities are not substantiated by significant investments or operational changes, they can be accused of opportunism. This practice is also called greenwashing.

We could say that greenwashing is green marketing that does not deliver on its promises.

5 inspiring examples of green marketing

  • LUSH 

“We're creating a cosmetics revolution to save the planet” reads the Instagram bio of the cosmetics company, which was founded in the UK in 1995. 

The company invests in regenerative farms (which do not impoverish the soil but allow nature to regenerate itself) in Peru, Guatemala, Arizona, and Uganda, to ensure transparency in its raw materials and supply chain.

Moreover, 35% of the products are 'naked', meaning sold without packaging. 



The American sportswear brand is one of the most active in the green field. Since 1985, Patagonia has donated 1% of its sales to the protection and restoration of the environment.

Today, the brand dedicates an entire section of its website to product care, including repair videos, to extend the life of its garments as much as possible, and offers incentives to employees who take public transport or carpool to work.

In 2011, on Black Friday, they bought a full page of the New York Times to run an ad urging people NOT to buy their jackets.


  • IKEA

IKEA phased out plastic bags in 2007 and incandescent light bulbs in 2010.

In 2020, the Swedish company launched its People and Planet Positive strategy: a plan to achieve energy independence and become a circular company by 2030.

This commitment is backed up by marketing campaigns that raise awareness of the small, big gestures that can make a difference.



Trees are part of the DNA of the outwear brand, which has one in its logo. The company aims to remove more carbon than it emits, protect biodiversity, improve water quality, and the welfare of the farmers who provide the raw materials for its products.

All goals can be achieved through reforestation if done in the right way.

Together with Treedom, Timberland has already planted more than 40,000 trees in Ghana, contributing to the Great Green Wall project, a natural barrier to combat the advance of desertification, but intends to plant 50 million trees worldwide by 2025. 



If it's melted, it's ruined. It's true for ice cream, and it's true for the planet.

In 2017, the ice cream brand launched a communication campaign called "Save our Swirled" and a flavor created especially for the occasion. In the campaign video, several flavors of ice cream are inexorably melting, while a voiceover reads: this is what happens when ice cream is two degrees warmer than it should be.

(dozens of Ben and Jerry's employees at the 2017 March for the Planet in New York)

Quite a powerful metaphor.

The US company aims to use only energy from renewable sources and to reduce its emissions by 40% by 2025.



  • if you want to be part of the green economy, and be a green business, your green marketing should not be green washing (if you got lost in these 50 shades of green, go back to the beginning of the article and review the glossary);
  • turn your attention not only outwards (customers, communication campaigns), but also inwards (employee awareness, products, transport, production);
  • be constant and relevant in your actions, spot initiatives are banned;
  • be creative! the market, and customers, will reward you!


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