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If We Don’t Call It ‘Green’-What Do We Call It?

January 14th, 2009 · 20 Comments · Uncategorized

Often times I like to read about trends in the Marketing Industry.  One of the topics for a few months now has been a recommendation for people and Corporations to move away from the term ‘Green’.  I find this interesting because I was once told:

If you are looking for great ideas in advertising Real Estate, don’t look at what your competition is doing.  Don’t even look at what anyone remotely related to the Industry is doing.   Look at what the Pros are doing for the Large Corporations and then find a way to make it work for you.

The reasoning behind NOT using the term ‘Green’ is Thanks to the term being severely diluted by Greenwashing.  It appears that certain Polls show that many Consumers Nationwide are in General are sick and tired of the term.

Which brings up some thoughts that have been discussed in the ‘Green’ Community- What terms do we use?

As I was just randomly thinking about this earlier I wondered if even the term ‘Eco Friendly’ should be considered as a questionable term also?

If you think about it, ‘Eco-Friendly’ is kind of getting diluted as well.  Heck, we have ‘Eco-Friendly’ plastic bottles that are said to be solely because they use LESS plastic in making them!  Not because they are by any means ‘Eco-Friendly’.  I mean, it’s not like we would throw it in the yard and expect it to be Biodegradable or anything.

Another reason is, in many parts of the Nation people in General are feeling the pinch from the Economy and statistics show that the Majority of the population, when being used in the context of products, considers the term ‘Eco-Friendly’ to directly be related to a Higher Purchase Price.  By that, it would seem that by Human Nature there would potentially be a large part of the population to NOT consider buying simply for that reason.

This brings up the question, What terms do we use?  What terms are Consumers, Home Buyers- Anyone.  What are they looking for?  What can they relate with?

In terms of Real Estate, what is expected to describe a home?  Sustainable-Durable-Lower Maintenance-

So now, I’m going to turn it over to you.  When looking at products, what do you look for?  What terms do you connect with that make you consider to either research it more or just purchase right away?

Any thoughts in general that you would like to share or discuss what puts up a Red Flag in your eyes?


20 Comments so far ↓

  • Jennifer Navarrete

    While I’m not tired of hearing and using the term “Green”, I can understand how folks might consider it a saturated term.

    How about “Renewable” or “Natural” or “Sustainable”?

    Jennifer Navarretes last blog post..Social Media Breakfast San Antonio

  • steph

    Hi Jennifer,

    I don’t know. I was hoping to get a bunch of feedback. :0) Instead of doing a poll. All 3 of those may work-Except I don’t know if sustainable is clearly defined.

  • Amie

    I agree with the above commenter (Jennifer) and in green circles….more often than not, the term sustainable is used instead of green. Other terms are low impact, environmentally friendly, and earth friendly.

    Amies last blog post..Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-01-11

  • steph

    Thanks Amie,

    I like the term low impact and it’s one that I probably don’t use enough. I’m wondering, for the people looking for a term that also shows a benefit to them which one to use? It’s all really interesting how the awareness grew so quick over the past year. (In Houston atleast)

  • Buck

    I like the old word “effective” “effectivity” (i.e. “to increase the “effectivity” of your HVAC system…) (I think I made that word up!) because everyone has the principle of “greening” embedded in their heads by now, but not all of the “green” methods out there are cost effective or effective at all.
    My feeble input.

  • Ellen Holder

    I’m not sure a catchy term or phrase is as important as educating the consumer in general. We need to make sure that we are transparent with our companies and explain to them why this is important. Consumers need to be skeptical of marketing terms and learn to read ingredient labels and do more research before falling for marketing hype.

  • steph

    Hi Buck!

    Yeah, I think Efficiency will stick around. So, you think maybe cost vs. benefit will be a biggie?

  • Andrew

    Well, I posted on this back in October and you even commented. So I dusted my post off and brought it back to the top of my blog for more discussion.

    I think I have determined that really no term defines green as well as green. Perhaps we leave it and continue to shove it out to the world until everyone just does the right thing and just makes everything green. When every product is made with attention toward the environment we can stop using it.

    Are you and everyone else with the banned words in their blog titles going to rename your blogs? I’m not.

    Andrews last blog post..What’s up for EcoZebra in 2009?

  • steph

    Hi Ellen,

    That is so true. Consumers need to be very skeptical. I just wonder how much ‘price’ on certain products affects the outcome of what they purchase. In real estate there is a huge price difference between ‘green’ and ‘greenwashed’. Kind of disheartening to see it in this industry as it is such a large investment. Very thought provoking, Thanks!

  • steph

    Hi Andrew,

    Not at all. Feel free to post a link here so maybe we can continue the discussion on a larger scale? In Houston I don’t think that the term green is diluted too much yet. But I’m seeing a TON of greenwashing in new construction. I’m just wondering, is there a better way to get the point across in marketing when we are limited in characters that would be more effective.

  • steph

    Hi Andrew,

    Nah, I trust you. :) I didn’t remember the article to be honest. I think the more conversation we can stir up the better. Trends in advertising can really affect the Real Estate Industry if we think about it…just trying to stay ahead of the game. If ‘green’ completely loses it’s meaning…well, you know.

  • Peggy

    Yeah, I’m pretty tired of the “green” term that is attached to all things trendy and pluff. I’ve always use “sustainable” more often than “green”. In fact, our motto for Casa Concept is “Sustainable Design”, and the architecture branch of Casa Concept is Towards Sustainable Design Studio (TSDS). But lately, I’ve also been using the word “conscientious” a lot, as in “climate conscious”, “culture conscious”, “cost conscious”, etc.. To me, “conscientious” suggests more than just a glancing interest in living and doing, but living and doing correctly and earnestly. I’m incorporating conscientious into our mission statement, because I believe that’s how we must be now.

  • Max

    Great discussion.

    I think as the whole concept of being earth friendly, green, sustainable, etc. matures, we will see new vocabulary being developed. I like the concept of sustainability, it means more then just being “green.” To me, sustainability is more of a “cradle to cradle” way of thinking. A sustainable product shouldn’t be any sort of burden on our eco-system.
    At ENSO we’re developing sustainable PET plastic bottles. Our bottles are (1) Biodegradable, (2) Compostable and (3) Recyclable and in the future we are going to make our bottles from bio-fuels made from non-food plants. The goal is to have a product that reduces dependence on foreign oil sources, has a minimal carbon foot print, and when it’s life is over can be turned into something useful.

    It’s not an end all answer, but it’s a positive step forward. We believe that is we all (businesses in particular) try to do something “sustainable,” we might be able to improve our planets health.

    Anyway my vote is for sustainable.


  • steph

    Hi Peggy,

    That is one term that I had not thought of but a good way to put it. The term green doesn’t personally bother me, it is the greenwashing that does :0) –

    I would like to find a way to keep in peoples minds that Green homes are for the homeowner also. I don’t know. Maybe we can keep this conversation going.


  • steph

    Hi Max! That’s amazing! I seems that I have seen the Enso label, but I can’t place where..

    I am a fan of sustainable as well for describing green products and ways of life. It seems to be a little easier to define than green. Easier to define I think helps consumers relate? I don’t know. Will be interesting to see what ’09 carries in the way of green and sustainable topics all the way around.

    Kudos to you and everyone at Enso for having an amazing vision. I hope that more Corporations can take lessons from you all and make it a normal way of business. As a matter of fact, a few local people here locally have considered doing a ‘Plastic Challenge’ – If you are following this conversation further, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Basically raising awareness on the true amount of plastic that is used on a daily/monthly basis that we don’t even think about. Interesting idea by a local LEED Residential Designer.

    Thanks again for stopping by!


  • David

    Don’t think the word is an issue or getting caught up in the latest trends of what is cool to say and what isnt. I believe as long as the the product or company is truly green or has valid proof in what they speak of they will be sought after by people who understand. The problem seems to be with the companies who say they are green but yet still do other things to contradict what they are ultimately trying to proclaim with their green angle. Word fads come and go but the impact of what is done and what shows is the ultimate win win. People are becoming very aware of the eco trends and green washing that is going on and from my eyes if the product or company is legit consumers seem to find out or learn why they are green. In the past I dont think consumers were as conscious of green or what sustainable means. This is why we are where we at with many things. I am an ecology fan and believe in sustainability so those are my words of choice. Good write!

  • Max


    I am following your blog and I like what I’m reading.

    I believe that we can’t wait for big corporations or government agencies to solve our environmental issues. We need a grass roots effort, everyone needs to get involved.
    Your blog is an excellent example of being involved it’s creating an awareness of plastics and how we use them.

    I just watched an interesting program on CBC called “Plastics Forever.” It was an interesting program which pointed out that most consumers aren’t aware of the amount of plastics we use, and their impact on our lives.

    I’d recommend the program to anyone interesting in learning about plastics and plastic recycling.

    One more pitch for using sustainability rather than green or recyclable.

    ENSO Bottles wants to develop plastic bottles that are sustainable. Sustainable products (regardless of what their made of) will reduce or eliminate harmful impact on our environment. Readers of your blog can make a difference if they insist that any products they use are sustainable.

    Sustainability doesn’t mean we have to do without modern conveniences and return to living in caves…… means that we need products that are designed to meet the cradle to cradle concept.

    Good blog….keep up the good work.

  • steph

    Hi David, Thanks for your input.

    It is all really interesting to see how different people react to the term. I believe that there are some people that would ask and really do some research while others may not be so inclined.

    It’s almost like there are 3 groups: those that have really researched the topics, those that are interested but almost afraid to ask but would love to know more, and then those that could care less about all of it.

    I’m wondering, how do we connect with those that are already interested and those that need more answers and are in the middle? Maybe as it all continues to evolve we will figure it out. Anyhow, Thanks again for stopping by.


  • steph

    Great! Thanks!

    The idea was for 30 days to not recycle or throw away anything plastic and see how much we come up with. A ‘weigh in’ of sorts. How large of a pile would we come up with? For the next 30 days, attempt to either not purchase plastics or those that are only recyclable or biodegradable. This was we are forced to find other options.

    That is sort of the Cliff Notes version of it all, but it would be quite amazing if we could come up with atleast 20 people Nationwide to participate to see how much we accumulate over 30 days.

    I’ll try to find the show that you are referring to. Sounds really interesting.

    Let me know what you think and Thanks for following along.


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