Sunday, March 30, 2008

Putting it in Green Perspective, Pt. 1

Reuters had a story on Thursday about a study, vetted by the EPA, that confirmed the impact an individual household can have by simply opting to receive and pay bills online vs. paper statements and checks.

The average U.S. household receives about 19 bills and statements and makes about seven payments by paper each month.
Apparently, by switching to electronic bills, and payments, "the average American household would save 6.6 pounds of paper a year, save 0.08 trees, and not produce 171 pounds of greenhouse gases -- the equivalent of driving 169 miles." The great thing about this article is twofold: it confirmed that individual acts DO make a difference, and it QUANTIFIED things in a pretty tangible way.

Now, for some people, it may still be hard to grasp what 6.6 pounds of paper a year feels like, or the impact of 171 pounds of greenhouse gases. But luckily the article goes on to describe it even more clearly with help from the Pay It Green Alliance, of banks and others who have teamed up to encourage electronic statements and payments.

The Alliance, formed in November of '07, has a terrific
page on their site with facts that were also quoted in the Reuters article. And THESE are the examples that really help you wrap your brain around the impact little old you can make. For example: They put
that 171 pounds of greenhouse gas in other understandable quantities like:
  • The emissions avoided by not consuming 8.8 gallons of gasoline
  • Planting 2 tree seedlings and allowing them to grow for 10 years
  • Preserving 24 square feet of forestland.
I could save 24 sq feet of forestland...and the $100 a year or so in postage on mailing bills at the same time? Cool!

And then they gross it up for you for what that equates to if 20% of US Households paid bills electronically, which would mean greenhouse gas reduction the same as:

  • Taking 325,722 cars off the road
  • The emissions avoided by not consuming 200 million gallons of gasoline
  • Planting 45.6 million tree seedlings and allowing them to grow for 10 years
  • Preserving 12,405 acres of forestland
I always work to create "benefit-based" green or mainstream marketing programs for my clients, thinking about the WIFM -- the "What's in it for Me" -- that the end-user would care about. By putting themselves in the shoes of the average American, who has been hearing all this "green " this and "eco" that but is tempted to not participate because s/he is just one person, it's this kind of information that personalizes it and really shows exactly "What's in it for EVERYONE."

PS: A great book that takes this concept to the next level is The Green Book.