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Green Marketing Strategies

Amitabha Ghose ISBN: 978-81-314-1442-2 Pages: 232  July 2008 Paperback 232 pages July 2008 Price: US$ 16 (PB) (Overseas Orders) INR 400 (Special Indian price)

This is an absolutely incredible book! I’d personally never have believed it possible that a book which costs 5.17 at the “Special Indian Price” could be such poor value unless I’d seen it myself.

What it is supposed to be doing is providing a guide to the history, theory and practice of “green marketing”. The kindest and briefest thing to say would be that it fails utterly. 

This book however fails so extravagantly that not to give more detail of just how very bad it is would be to miss an open goal.

The book basically comprises a series of ill-assorted reprints, mostly a few years old, with the choice of sources seemingly being anyone who would give them reprint rights.

I’m afraid to say one of the sources is the Chemical Engineer magazine. What an embarrassment to see Andrew West’s article on Packaging Waste from TCE associated with this lash- up.

There are a couple of dry-as-dust US government reports, a few articles which are taken more or less straight from various multinational companies' sustainability reports, and an assortment of dross from various Indian authors who seem little better informed that the authors. There is a decent article from a Turkish source, but like the rest of the reprints, you can get it for free on the internet.

This farrago resembles nothing so much as what you would get if you asked a none-too-bright A-level student to write a book on the subject by teatime, giving them only free access to the internet and unlimited energy drinks. Other than the reprinted content, it would be at the low end of blogging’s unexacting standards.

There is no coherent thread to the book, its attempted division into two sections makes no sense, and the editors do not in any case conform to their own supposed system. 

And what editors they are! Their favourite research tool is Wikipedia. They do not hide it, they include it in their “references”, mostly comprising seemingly random web sites.

This is only to the extent that they obey any system of references at all. There are lists of numbered “references” at the end of one of their chapters, with no numbers in the text. There are references as footnotes, references as numbers in the text, and a list of miscellaneous references with no idea where they fit at the end of another chapter.They insert content which is not indexed at all in several places.

In the few places that they include anything other than web addresses, they give a single author name and year of publication as the complete clue to their data source. It is very noticeable that these partial references are all from the early 90’s, and are therefore probably sourced from their lecture notes. 

As the editors’ standard of English is so poor, there are jarring jumps in style in the parts they have written where they shoehorn into their garbled text plagiarised chunks originating with someone who can write comprehensible English.

Their reliance on old references makes their discussions of EU environmental legislation worse than useless, for example - Ghose talks about the planned German regulations requiring takeback of waste electrical equipment. He is seemingly referring to the WEEE regulations, introduced Europe-wide in 2005.

They think that the German Blue Angel eco-mark is administered by the German government through something called the green marketing regulations. No such regulations exist in the EU, and the Blue Angel is actually administered by a collection of consumer and pressure groups.

What makes these and the rest of many errors all the more inexcusable is that if they had actually read the reprints in the book they supposedly authored, they would have found more recent and accurate information. 

In discussing accurate information, it is of course important to be able to weigh sources, something the authors of this book are seemingly incapable of doing.

They seemingly accept without question the claims of organic farming to be “greener”, produce better tasting, more nutritious crops, and to be the only way to prevent the land becoming barren. No part of this has solid scientific backing, but none of the authors question these claims.

I’ve reviewed books by foreign authors before. I’ve seen Spanglish, Germlish, and Franglish. But the editors of this book write in Gibberish. Try this for size: “A truly green product needs to tag on the way nature works”. What is that supposed to mean?

Better still, a few lines down we have “Nowadays all products are subjected to a precise set of standards so as to consider what is natural and what is not natural”. Really? I was unaware of the international unnatural products standards, and their required precision. I thought those concerned with unnaturalness in products merely used the more approximate traditional “it be flying in the face of nature, so it does” test.

Don’t even get me started on the abundance of typos, unexplained acronyms, and the varied typefaces used throughout the book, giving clear evidence of its cut and paste origins.

I could go on at length, but suffice it to say this IS an incredible book. I can’t believe that someone actually put their name to it.

You’ll learn more about rationally based green marketing from DEFRA’s free “Green Claims- Practical Guidance” publication in five minutes than either of these editors seem to know about the subject.