Topic 2 Greenhushing

Greenhushing is a deliberate undercommunication of sustainable actions implemented by a business. It can be based on the:

  • Perception of consumers’ rights to consumerism; greenhushing would in this sense be done to avoid that the tourists feel guilty to consume;
  • Fear of not being good enough compare to what would have been highlighted; a fear to break promises;
  • Difficulty to express clearly and in few words the circular approach.

In the Green Lodging Trends Report Survey 2018, the analysis of answers from European hotels reveals that:

  • 96% had a written sustainability policy or a set of policies in place.
  • Only 64% communicated about their green practices on their website.
  • Only 49% issued a press release highlighting a green investment or initiatives.

An analysis of the audits and websites of 31 small rural tourism businesses in the Peak District National Park (UK) showed that businesses only communicate 30% of all the sustainability actions they implement.

However, results from a TripAdvisor’s survey (of more than 1,000 travellers worldwide) carried out in 2007 show that:

  • 40% take environmentally friendly tourism into consideration when making travel plans.
  • 66% believe that environmentally friendly measures in travel are making a difference.
  • Nearly 25% believe that air travel should be avoided to help preserve the environment, while 38% said would pay more to take an eco-friendly flight and 26% would pay a 5-10% premium, but only 3% have ever purchased carbon credits.
  • 25% said they would pay a 5-10% premium, and 12% would pay a 10-20% premium to pay for ‘green’ accommodation.
  • 38% said they had already stayed at an environmentally friendly property, and 9% would specifically seek out environmentally friendly establishments.

Greenhushing appears to be quite an inappropriate choice as people are interested in “green” accommodation.

Xavier Font, who wrote several articles on tourism and greenhushing, kept questioning about the best way to communicate sustainability during a tourism symposium in 2015. Watch this video and think about what would your answer be, and the reason why you would give this answer.

Entities can have a good or bad environmental performance:

  • Greenwashing firms have a bad environmental performance but an extensive communication on environmental performance. This overcommunication in regards of the environmental performance leads to this misleading feeling.
  • Greenhushing firms have a limited communication despite a good environmental performance, leading to a poor visibility of their environmental actions.

As environmental awareness rises, it seems of interest to be a “vocal green firm”.

Source: Adapted from Delmas & Burbano (2011)