Friday, July 10, 2009

Don't Push Mainstream off the Green Bandwagon

I read a tweet ( RT rocknrod The dirty tricks behind local-washing: How national corporations are co-opting the idea of "local"... ) that led me to for that post on Localism. I think this is an article worth reading. With a caveat. Read the reader comments, and this post, too. And tell me what you think.

I agree with most of the comments: very good in-depth reporting and awareness raising. I am, however, sensitive to the fact that there are a LOT of buzzwords -- greenwashing, astroturfing -- and labels
incorporated into the article...and a proposal that we create yet ANOTHER label ("independently owned.")

I'm not opposed to creating clear and transparent descriptions, but I also know -- as evidenced by one of the earliest reader comments -- there is already massive consumer confusion.
It's bad enough that we don't have consistent certification programs for green businesses and services, so it's easy to stake a claim and risk being accused of "greenwashing." But I try to minimize use of that word because the fact is, among mainstream consumers, there's still a TON of education and action that has to happen to get the majority on a green path.
We don't want to add to the cynicsm and give mainstream a chance to fall OFF the green bandwagon before we get them on it.

Just as Adam Werbach of Saatchi & Saatchi S is a proponent of moving the sustainability* movement description towards the word BLUE to be more encompassing of the issues, LOCAL is another issue that falls under that category. Do we need to keep chunking things out? What about when "Independently Owned" soon becomes besmirched by the "Home Gardened" crowd or the "Virtual Workers Creating Less Carbon" (me.)? We run the risk of alienating people with too much pressure on politically correct labeling before we've had a chance to educate them in general about simple steps to take at the very least. Again, I'm a big fan of the content and intention...just hoping we can put emphasis on action vs labeling.

I remain perhaps a Pollyanna in promoting my mantra that every step is a good step... even if it is a corporation using marketing to move the ball forward...for NOW.
Let's start the skewering AFTER we've saved the world!

*Sustainability: Not robbing the future of resources for today's business practices (Think adherance to triple bottom line people (fair trade, etc.), planet (eco-conscious) AND profit.)

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