This was the opening line of an article that I read this morning on GreenBiz regarding 7 reasons why going green is hard to do. The article opens discussing how 1 in 4 Americans wants to make good environmental decisions and how we need to get the other 75% involved. Now, this is not a new problem. In fact, that exact reason is why I started Turning Houston Green. To educate. Honestly, I was quite disturbed about several items noted throughout this article.
Honestly, the tidbit on ‘going green’ is not difficult. The problem with not getting the other 75% to go ‘green’ is because that percentage really does believe that it is difficult. In reality, it is easy. The difficult part is having to somewhat change our thinking from instant gratification to considering long term benefits. The truth of the matter is that we have become a disposable society. To an extent we have become used to being able to purchase a cheap, for example, washer and dryer. It may only last a few years, but it gives me money to go out to eat, or buy my child clothing.
We have been told through marketing how we should buy. Marketing companies have mastered being able to strategically place a commercial on Nickelodeon about how they have added Fiber to their cereal with bright colors and cool animated characters, yet the news of how many chemicals are in the box and how they are not even regulated by FDA goes unnoticed.
I suppose what I am getting at is that we, as a society, do not necessarily *not* want to ‘buy’ in to the Environmental movement, many just do not understand it. This exact topic I have written about on my site more than once. Most often everything is equal to tons of CO2. This is not the only benefit and consumers WILL NOT buy what they DO NOT understand. The article on GreenBiz mentions Seventh Generation and how they have done well. That is because they explained their benefit. Energy Efficiency has done quite well in the arena of Greening up America but that is because people understand ‘Change lightbulb, Save money’.
From here, I am going to point out what I disagree with and why.
- Socio-Economic rise of women: This is nothing new. Women make appx. 80% of the buying decisions in the household and it is suggested in the article that with delayed marriage, etc. this is unsustainable due to the desire for convenience goods. I assure you this does not have to do with delayed marriage and women working. This is our society. Last year I went to a picnic at my son’s school and out of 12 parents, only 2 of us actually packed a picnic. The rest brought either Lunchables, Chick Fil A or other fast food choices. To an extent I agree that interruption marketing is the root cause of this. Instead of blaming it on that though, I again relate it to a changing society. Even the landscape of family picnic has changed. The problem that marketing departments face on sustainability is not Women being the buying power, it is explaining benefits. Cause and Effect, and how we need to get back to our roots.
- Conservation is Anti-Ethical to a Consumer based society: WHAT?! Coming from a ‘green’ site I was absolutely amazed at this statement. What does recycling have to do with consumerism? It creates jobs. What does organic have to do with it? It creates jobs. Even reusing items such as swapping clothes on Thredup for kids helps out the economy by using USPS AND reduces the amount of textiles in the landfill.
- Don’t Divide, Multiply: This was supposed to be a positive in the article. It is saying that marketers should not target a narrow market. I agree, but only if you want to take the fast track to bankruptcy. Everyone has something that they are passionate about. Someone looking for energy efficiency and saving money is not exactly the person that you want to market your organic, specialty clothing line to. Those with sensitivities? Probably. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Ditch the term green and use real words such as healthy, energy efficient, etc.
Items that I did agree with:
- Habits are hard to break: This was a negative but the single most important thing that we should keep in mind while trying to reach either the green consumer or the others in between. Maybe I am naive but I believe that most understand their buying decisions, whether it be the microwavable lasagna they buy for dinner or a cheap light bulb, is wrong. We need to maximize on that. Instead of telling people how hard it is to go green, SHOW them it isn’t. It does not take anymore time to put a plastic bottle in to a recycling bin than it does a trash can. If you are going to microwave a lasagna for 45 minutes, try cooking real food in 20.
- Individuals are a catalyst for change: Absolutely. This is why buying local is a huge part of the environmental movement. Every time you purchase something you are making a decision. Try out the GoLocalHouston program. Buy from a local farmer or small business. Support your local economy and not so much those that ship in products from overseas. The environmental benefits are endless if you do this.
So my message to green business owners, don’t buy in to the hype. Do you want to know how to attract customers? Don’t look at other green companies. Watch a Zoloft commercial or read the Sunday Coupons. Heck, even watch your kids’ favorite television channel with them and watch them go nuts over wanting to go to Chuck E Cheese for their birthday party. That is how you attract potential customers. SHOW them the benefit, either physically or emotionally, tangible or not. Don’t tell them.