greenwashing


charity

You want to hug a dolphin? Or maybe plant a tree? What about buying a goat for a village in Ethiopia? Or a desk and chair for a school in Banda Aceh? No. Mm-mm, difficult one. Wait, I have just the thing for you – how about supporting the Foundation for the protection of Swedish underwear models?

And you think I am joking about that last one. It might be tongue in cheek, but this cause has over 400,000 signed up members globally. Okay, it is a Facebook cause – but one of the most supported causes. They even managed to raise some money for their nonprofit – after specifically asking for NO money. Yes, this is a nonprofit and their aim is the “promotion of international understanding”. No, I really am NOT joking.

The point I am trying to make is that we now have a cause for every taste and need. And then some. Once you find your cause – which organization within this cause do you want to support? And so on, and so on. The list just gets longer and longer.

This shouldn’t be a problem. People can now match their passions with the right organization. And there are enough charities out there to still have a slight different individual flavor that makes you so much more different from the plebs who support Oxfam (joking people…). Oh no, you support Project Africa – because it is so much more than a goal, it is a mission. A cause that goes with your evening dress and another that goes well as a car refresher hanging from the rear-view mirror.

And it makes life so much easier if you run a company. All you have to do is pick your cause and adopt the charity or nonprofit that is still available. You feel strongly about education for kids? Make your pick – we still have EduKiddiCare and KEDUCare available. (Man, how many times can someone focus on education before we run out of charities or ideas?)

But the growth in charities and causes can have a bad impact as well – apart from the bad jokes (sorry). Firstly, it waters down the important stuff and diverts attention. Instead of tackling the real big issues facing the world – Climate Change, Abuse, Poverty & Hunger, War, Disasters and Health (the Big 5 plus Climate Change) – we tackle every issue that comes to mind. Can we really justify saving the dolphin, battling bottled water, fighting immigration, protesting GM crops and anti/pro-abortion marches (the Little 5) while people are dying of hunger, disease, abuse, disasters or war? Of course all these other issues are important, but more important than people dying right now in this world we all share? I don’t know – your call.

Even more important than the long list of options and diverting attention – the diversion of funds. Two dynamics stand out. Firstly, aid only increases marginally each year – and even then it goes to certain causes that are important, but not really charity for the needy. For instance, where do you think 80% of US federal ‘aid’ go? A handful of countries that are not really on the most needy list – Israel, Pakistan and Egypt. And oh, it includes military aid… And it gets worse because the money is now spread across and even wider range of causes and organizations. Each year another nonprofits comes along that wants a piece of the pie – and reduces the share of the next one.

But the single biggest problem I have with the proliferation of charities? They divert money away from Africa and other places of need. Instead of the funding going directly to the charity in the country suffering, it goes via other charities and donor bodies first. And everyone takes their cut. The money for empowering women farmers in Zambia doesn’t go to Women for Change. Oh, they might get a small amount. But the money first goes to DFID or USAID or GTZ – or whatever government agency. And then it goes to Oxfam GB or US or Germany. And then it goes to Oxfam Southern Africa. And then it goes to Oxfam Zambia. And the leftovers go to Women for Change.

Businesses always try and streamline their value chain. We should do the same with funding. No more than 2 steps before it gets to the actual people that need it and should benefit from it. Cut out the middlemen. Hey, they make money for campaiging in any case by collecting from door to door and in the streets. It doesn’t mean the end of Oxfam or Care or Save The Children and mates. Just the beginning of the nonprofits who can really bring immediate change to the people who need it most. It will force every charity to focus on achieving real change and doing the bit they are best at. And more of the program money will go to the charities who are closest to the real issues on the ground – they are part of the people who suffer in their community. We just need to streamline the charity supply chain a bit.

Of course there is another reason for my little rant. Is it about caring about something or doing something? The caring bit is about you. But the doing bit is about those who need the help. It’s a slight but important difference. You can pick a charity or a cause the way you pick a dress or shoes – something to fit in with your needs and different tastes. But please don’t forget that this isn’t about you. It’s about those who really need you to be part of them and part of the solution. I worry that the causes are so diverse that we start forgetting who and what this is all about. It’s not a clothing outfit to fit with your personality. It’s about people. And what they need.

Mm-mm, maybe I just found the cause that fits my charity. The AA BARF charity needs your support. Really… The Angry African Beer And Rugby Fund never really got the funding or supporters it deserved in any case. And the money will go directly to the cause it supports. I promise…

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opener

Okay, I doubt hell is actually eco-friendly. I think their climate has already changed dramatically. Apparently it’s hot in there. Maybe even more than just simple plain old global warming? Anyway…

This “eco-friendly” stuff really gets to me. Every single day we are bombarded by someone telling us to be more eco-friendly in our lives and in the choices we make. But can we really be eco-friendly?

Maybe the problem starts with what we define as eco-friendly. Do we mean something that is good for the environment or something that is just less bad than the alternative? Too often we are told something is eco-friendly when it is really only eco-friendlier than the alternative. For instance, anything made out of plastic will have an impact on the environment – even the biodegradable stuff. In fact, almost everything uses resources and will have a negative impact on the environment. So it can’t really be eco-friendly. Right? Or can it?

You drive a hybrid – is that eco-friendly? Not in a million years would you suck on the exhaust pipe – it still has some bad stuff blowing out that old metal pipe. Give me a C… Give me an O… And another O… What do you get? Anyway, it is just better than the alternative Hummer.

You’ve changed your light bulbs – does that make you a tree hugger? Hum, it still uses electricity that will most likely not be from a renewable source. And don’t forget the bad stuff insight that “green” light… Ever heard of mercury?

You eat organic foods – makes you feel green doesn’t it? Hope you planted that yourself because they don’t get to the shop or your house via wind power you know. No matter how many beans you eat…

But it doesn’t mean that these things won’t be more positive for old mister bunny rabbit down in the woods. Or something better for the kids playing in the park. It’s just that we will have an impact on the environment – whether we want to or not. We won’t be able to go back to the “good old days” when everything was green and lions roamed the streets (hopefully Will Smith was only acting). And I don’t think we want to either. People want their stuff – tv, fridge, dishwasher, computer etc. I know I want a bigger telly one day. Angelina looks so much better on a bigger screen. Anyway… And even if they don’t want this level of technology – remember, even books don’t come with a zero impact. Trees being chopped down and all that ink…

It’s more about achieving some sort of balance. Nature has always healed itself. Trees provide us with oxygen, oceans clean oil spills, chickens have eggs (and eggs have chickens). We will run out of some things – oil and coal to name a few. But that’s okay, we’ll find new ways to travel and heat up. We always have and, hopefully, always will.

While being eco-friendlier won’t make a tree hug us, it will allow for the tree to continue to grow. And it’s the little things that can make a difference. Cut your emissions by turning the lights off when you don’t really need it. Save water by taking more showers than baths. (Remember the “Share A Shower” campaign? Maybe we should start that again…) Save on electricity and water by not filling the kettle to the top when you really only need a cup of water for your coffee – or tea if you’re from England. Find your own little thing to adapt or change – and don’t give up living at the same time. It won’t change the world overnight, but it will all add up if we all become a little eco-friendlier.

Being eco-friendlier will give the environment the time it needs to heal itself. The problem right now is that we are getting to a stage where the time needed by nature for healing can’t keep up with the pace of our (and nature’s own) impact. Be a little friendlier and give nature a bit more time. Even if you don’t like nature, remember it serves as a central place for human life. We won’t make it if we didn’t have the trees, the animals, the water. No shelter, no food, no beer. Think about that last one… Can you really live without that?

But don’t be all starry eyed about nature either. Remember, nature isn’t human-friendly. If a branch falls it doesn’t check if you moved the car. If a forest burns it doesn’t check if your house is in the way. If a volcano explodes it doesn’t check if the villagers moved out in time. If a lion hunts it doesn’t check if you can run faster. It does what it does. It is what it is. We shouldn’t park under the tree. We shouldn’t build in fire prone areas. We shouldn’t stay so close to the volcano. We shouldn’t live so close to the lion. But we do because we all share this world – and sometimes we are just plain stupid or have no alternative. And anyway, we rule the world and they don’t. Live with it.

But if you insist on being eco-friendly – some advice… Go bury yourself out in the woods. You will have minimum impact, except for the disturbed soil and life cycle of the shovel. But you will be eco-friendly – pushing up daisies. I’ll be eco-friendlier and water the plants. With a watering can. It’s eco-friendlier than a hose.

Hey, I have a job as well! Imagine that. Someone actually pays me to have an opinion. Anyway… Thought I should give you a peek at the type of stuff I write for work. This will go on our work blog in the next few days. It’s been edited. You’ll see that! A bit different from my usual style and topic. But it gives you an insight into some of my other work-related thoughts.

Build it (green) and they will buy?

Everything seems to be turning green. And there is nothing wrong with that – companies creating new, innovative products and services that are good for them and good for the environment. But consumers haven’t completely bought into this yet. A number of green products aren’t flying off the shelves the way companies anticipated. Why is it that the green revolution has taken companies by storm, but not consumers? With the environment at the forefront of consumer concerns, it makes one wonder, why consumers aren’t dropping the bad stuff and buying the good stuff. We build it, but they just won’t come.

Why?

Some products are a big hit with consumers – the Prius and CFL light bulbs are taking off in a big way. So why aren’t they buying green shoes, food, computers, etc.?

There are many reasons why people buy certain products and not others – price, functionality, “coolness,” brand loyalty, etc. One often overlooked factor is: how do the environmental aspects of the product help the consumer?

Let’s first look at why the Prius and the CFL light bulb are so popular. They allow consumers to feel better about themselves when they use these products. A person starts their Prius and immediately feels “greener” than their neighbor with the gas-guzzling SUV. They feel better and more environmentally responsible with every mile they drive. It is the action of driving that makes them “green.” The same goes for a CLF light bulb. They feel better about themselves each and every time they turn on the lights. The simple action of switching on the light enables them to feel like an environmental “activist” – that they are making a difference.

You said you wanted a green car...

You said you wanted a green car...

The environmental benefit doesn’t come from the company making the Prius or the CFL light bulb. The “goodness” comes from the consumer using the product instead of an alternative product. A Prius isn’t a car – it is an environmental tool for the consumer. The CFL light bulb doesn’t just provide light – it provides the consumer with an opportunity to make a difference through the simple action of flipping the switch.

The success of these “green” products lies in enabling the consumer to take action. The act of making a difference through using these products makes them successful. So many green failures can be traced back to lacking this fundamental element – allowing consumers to feel “green” each time they use a product. When all the “goodness” is in the making of the product and not in the using of the product, no other action is expected from the consumer. The only action the consumer needs to take is buying the product. But the act of buying is not perceived as an act of environmental activism. This doesn’t allow the consumer to feel that they are taking environmental action.

Buying a green product, that’s green qualities are all in the production phase, leaves the consumer with a very basic question: what about me?

You want to sell a green product? Then let your consumer be part of the “greenness.” Give them something that they can do apart from just buying the product. Give them a way to take action. Let it be easy – like starting a Prius or flipping a light switch. Give consumers simple actions that make them feel like they are making a difference each and every time they use your product. Let them be part of the change.

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More green stuff from me:

Can I interest you in a green Blow Up Doll?

Okay, so I don’t really want you to buy a blowup doll. Not even a green one. But it seems as if we think consumers will buy anything green – or rather that a green product will have an edge over competing not-so-green products. Consumers might be more interested in the environmental factors of a…

How friendly is eco-friendly?

Every single day we are bombarded by someone telling us to be more eco-friendly in our lives – and the choices we make. But can we really be eco-friendly? …

What’s the emissions of your local warlord’s car – and do you care?

Man, these umlungu’s over here really like their big cars. Okay, not all of them. And I have more of a problem with those who don’t drive big cars than those who do. They are all up in arms about the impact on global climate and the emissions by these big trucks – bakkies back…

It’s not always greener on the other side

Everything is green nowadays. It’s the talk of the town. Newspapers are full of the latest green apocalypse heading our way. Bloggers blog green left, right and center – with fonts and pictures to match. Activist are up in arms about green washing and washing our greens. Governments want to govern what green means. The…

We eat meat – get used to it

Being green or protecting wildlife means almost nothing outside US and Europe. There are bigger issues facing people in places like Burundi, Guyana, Yemen and North Korea. They continue to struggle to survive each day. The cheapest bidder always wins when you live off less than $1 a day. And you don’t know if there…

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Here we go again…

1. The Long and Winding Road

Well, it’s not only the scientists who are all getting hot under collar with the global warming thing. It seems as our beloved veggie, Paul McCartney, decided to go all green as well. I guess green makes sense after losgina few to the one-legged wonder heathen Heather Mills. She took a few green ones off him. Okay, I am not a huge McCartney (or Beatles) fan. Especially not Sir Paul. Anyone trying to force tofu and soya down my throat better run fast. But this time he got the pale people vegetarians greenies all worked up for all the wrong reasons. He bought a hybrid. Okay, not actually bought one – got it for free from Lexus. They are not pissed because he got it for free. Nah, it is interesting that those who have will get more, but that’s not the reason. No. Sir Pale Paul got his hybrid flown in all the way from Japan… A bit of an environmental footprint hey? The equivalent of driving it 300 times around the earth. I’m not bugged, I say just Let It Be.

2. Libya liberated

It is official. Libya is back on the good side of life. Yes, the country called Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, but known to close friends as just plain old Libya, is now officially the place to be. Okay, not really official, but still – the signs are there that it is the in place right now. No Gaddafi didn’t hand out oil for free or open a Arab Disney. Actually, I don’t know why they are the place to be. I just know they are. Just the other day they caught 240 illegal immigrants hanging around the beaches at Tripoli. Must be the weather. Can’t be that they were trying to get into Italy by any chance. I mean really. Italy? Why the hell would you want to do something like that? You know how I feel about Italy

3. Flip-flop, here we go… again

Question to Presidential candidate: “Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?”

Presidential candidate answered: “They’re the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so . . . but it’s a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that.”

So McCane would be all over your… hum… backside it you said that right? I mean come on. Obama shouldn’t be saying things like that. Talking to extreme governments. It should just not be done by an American President. What? Obama didn’t say that? Oh… McLame said that… Just 2 years ago. Maybe it is his age catching up. I can understand that. He can’t even remember where he put his teeth last night. Or his comb-over hair. Sad thing is. People will swallow this and vote for the man. I think it is Kool-Aid. Or could be stupidity.

4. Monster sue Monster sue Monster sue Monster…

So you are just playing a nice game of mini-golf and when you think to yourself. I should really get cable from these guys. It must be the blue lights getting you all confused and the putter feels a bit like a remote control. Now, you must be pretty stupid to confuse mini-golf with cable right? No – I don’t mean watching Caddyshack on the box. I mean thinking that a mini-golf outfit will sell you cable on the side. Stupidity knows no end. Monster Cable is suing Monster Mini Golf because of copyright infringement. WTF? My question exactly. But it’s okay. They’ve also sued Discovery over their Monster Garage series. And Monster.com. And Disney for Monster Inc. And the Red Sox for Monster Seats on the… Green Monster. I guess they are hoping for a Monster payout. Keep dreaming guys. Acting like Monsters, sorry little “m” – monsters, won’t get you much sympathy. I’ll sue if you dare register Angry Monster on the Loose. Monster! Monster! Monster! monsters. Now, let’s sit back and wait to get sued.

5. Stopping poverty at the door

I think this Samuelson dude (sorry, Robert J. Samuelson) needs to get back to university. Start reading Logic 101 instead of The Economist. I think he might be conservative. Hear him out. “Finally, let’s discuss poverty. Everyone is against it, but hardly anyone admits that most of the increase in the past 15 years reflects immigration — new immigrants or children of recent immigrants. Unless we stop poor people from coming across our Southern border, legally and illegally, we won’t reduce poverty.” Hum… Dude. I apologize. That is way logic. You will reduce poverty by letting less poor people in. Hum… Dude. I really don’t know what to say. Maybe you should become Mac’s economic adviser. Your sense of economics makes about as much sense as his views on war, torture, foreign policy, Hamas flip-flop, Sonny & Cher, (sorry, Sunni & Shiite), gas prices and his comb-over. Here’s another few pieces of logic Mr Smartypants – stop the killing by stopping the war or stop the dying by giving people health-care or stop the bigotry by giving people equal rights or stop the pain by stopping the torture or stop global warming by stopping the oil. Puh-lease. As if you have the balls or logic to do that.

That’s it folks. See ya later. And have a great, great weekend.

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Another week. And another week of weak news. Let’s have a look at some of the highlights.

1. Yoo-hoo, wake up and smell the torture

Sorry to start on such a downer. But let’s get the bad news out the way first. We now know the author of the “torture” memo. John Yoo. No, not John Woo. He makes torture movies – completely different thing. Some of his movies can be used to torture us if we paid the bucks to watch it, but the outcome is generally much less dramatic than the ending… Anyway… John Yoo, author of such brilliant lines that said interrogators could legally use a number of unspecified techniques as long as they did not violate his definition of torture, which was “intense pain or suffering of the kind that is equivalent to the pain that would be associated with serious injury so severe that death, organ failure or permanent damage resulting in a loss of significant body functions will likely result.” Poetry. Isn’t it… Anyway… To torture or not to torture, that is not the question. My two sets of questions to Mr Yoo and to President Bush: (i) Mr Yoo-hoo, so it’s okay to torture in “Gitmo” and not elsewhere? But you didn’t give the opinion on whether it is acceptable to torture in places like Iraq? You assume it isn’t, but you never gave a legal opinion on that. Also, Mr Yoo, leaving your legal counsel aside, do you think it is morally acceptable? Before your answer, isn’t the law our societal way to define what is morally acceptable or not? Mr Yoo, Yoo-hoo, wake up and smell the torture. I hope you like the blood on your hands. My second set of questions – to President Bush. (ii) President Bush, you think this is morally acceptable? I know you think it is legally acceptable, but is it morally acceptable? If not, then what do we do? And the same as what I ask Mr Yoo – should the legal system not reflect what society wants as boundaries of morality? Also, I am sure you did not make a decision to allow torture lightly, but can you explain to me the answer you gave at a G8 meeting in 2004 (transcript) to these questions?

Question: “Mr. President, the Justice Department issued and advisory opinion last year declaring that, as commander in chief, you have the authority to order any kind of interrogation techniques that are necessary to pursue the war on terror. Were you aware of this advisory opinion? Do you agree with it? And did you issue any such authorization at any time?”

President Bush: “The authorization I issued was that anything we did would conform to U.S. law and would be consistent with international treaty obligations. That’s the message I gave our people.”

Question: “Have you seen the memos?”

President Bush: “I can’t remember if I’ve seen the memo or not, but I gave those instructions.”

A decision on whether torture is allowed or not and you didn’t read the memo? A memo that would tell you that you can or can not allow someone to e tortured and you can’t remember if you read it? I am sure that most people would remember if they read a memo that just said that they can torture people. I will give you the benefit of the doubt. Even if you didn’t read the memo – did you know about the content of the memo and what it meant or did you give an order based on a memo you did not read or know the substance of?

Yoo-hoo. Wake up and smell the torture.

2. Law and behold – not

This one makes my head hurt a bit. Mike Jerkoff – sorry, I mean Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security Secretary – is acting slightly insecure by waiving more laws than at any other stage since they started building the fence. 36 of them. Good logic. Let’s break a few laws to keep them. Laws being waived include National Park Service Organic Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Antiquities Act, and the Native American Graves Protection Act. Ouch. Stuff the water, vegetation, graves and wildlife. Just to make it easier to build a fence and keep people off the grass. I know how he feels though. I have so much red tape to go through to keep the bloody neighbour’s dog from sh*tting in my yard. But he reminded us that we should, of course, obey the law at all times. Just not him. But here is the clincher. He also stated that we need to remember that people who are here illegally should comply to the law. Huh? Duh! So, let me get this straight… He is breaking the law to ensure no one is breaking the law and him breaking the law won’t really stop people from breaking the law and he is breaking the law to stop people who have broken the law and we must not break the law he is breaking and we must remember to not break the law if we break the law. I wish we had a law for logic. But I guess that one is broken too…

3. Mac eating his pork

Mac is the man. He is against pork. Oh, yes he is. And he don’t lie mista. He railed against earmarks and “pork barrel projects” on Fox and Friends as “an egregious process.” “It’s symptom of the problems in Washington that people exercise their political clout to get things done that they otherwise wouldn’t,” said McCain. That’s our man – protecting the taxpayers money. Thanks Mac, I might not need that $300 at all if you carry on the way you do. Just wait a stinking minute there Mac. Where did you make the speech again? Cecil Field hey? Is that burning pork chops I smell? Between 2001 and 2005 Cecil Field got almost $10 million dollars in earmarked funds – a pork-proud venue. Hey, you weren’t responsible right? Of course you aren’t. But it is odd that you voted for those Defense Appropriation Conference Reports that contained those earmarks in 2004 and 2005. I just hope that you show a little bit more insight (or foresight) if you become President. The last thing I would want you to do is step into a place and opening your mouth without knowing what is actually going on in that place. Can you say Iraq?

4. Money for the greasemonkey

Not all greenies are goodies. Or bright. Mr Dave Dick-son, sorry David Richardson, got arrested in California for trying to steal used cooking grease from a Burger King restaurant. He got caught while trying to pump it into his tanker truck – caught greasy-handed. Okay, maybe someone should tell the dude that Burger King would be more than happy to give it away for free if you just ask. No wait. They make my Whopper with that stuff – don’t they? But you could ask you know. You never know, they might give it away instead of trying to flush it down the toilet or dump it in the flowerbeds outside Whole Foods. Oh, he should also remember that although cooking grease is a green biodiesel, the future is all algae. But I guess McDonald’s were closed. What? You didn’t think they used real beef did you?

5. Angry African on the Loose makes Top 10 Bloggers List!

Yes, can you believe it. I made it at last! I am now officially one of the Top 10 Bloggers in the world! The world baby! Some of the reviews said, “Angry African on the Loose is the leading voice of the Socialist Conservatives on the web today”, “Angry’s story on the quantum dynamics of Africanism is already a classic, and “Angry African is what every white guy in France wishes he could be”. The International Institute of Anarchists and the Socialist Society of Conservatives both gave good old me the top honor in this years BuggerAll Awards. Yes. I won bugger all – nada, nothing, zilch, zero. But I wish I could do what some guys on Facebook did. Rate themselves! Yes, application builders on Facebook found a new way to ensure they get positive reviews for their applications. They just did it themselves. Pure genius. Or maybe not. The people all came from the same company – Slide. And the “independent users” had names like Adora Slidesix, Adora Slideeight, Adora Slideeleven… Really people. Just let it slide. This isn’t rocket science you know. This isn’t even physical ed. This is what happened to the kids from “Leave no child behind”.

That’s all folks. See ya next week. Maybe.

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Okay, so I don’t really want you to buy a blowup doll. Not even a green one. But it seems as if we think consumers will buy anything green – or rather that a green product will have an edge over competing not-so-green products. Consumers might be more interested in the environmental factors of a product than before, but it is hit and miss. Not every green product will have an edge over competitors. Consumers are still driven by a myriad number of decision making filters when they decide to buy something.

We are told price always counts as number one. Not really. Functionality is generally number one. People buy something because they can use it and expect it to have certain functions. It’s not the only filter they use, but it is a central one. You won’t buy a car if you really want a kettle. Yes, you might be able to boil some water on the engine, but I bet you that’s not why you want the FJ Cruiser. It must be able to do something for you – something you want done. It might be practical (like a kettle) or something more emotional (like a FJ Cruiser). But it will have some function.

Price is important. A $1.99 won’t buy you that meal at Uno’s, but might get you something at McDonald’s. But would you still go there if you had $50 to blow on a meal? That’s an awful lot of Big Macs. You buy what you can afford – or what your credit limit can afford.

Look, feel and ‘coolness’ are other factors that people will use as filters. These are just a few in a very long list, but consumers tend to think through these in a split second. It’s not a conscious tick-box approach. It’s just something we are conditioned to use. That’s why ads try and link into our filters – it’s cool, it’s functional, and it will make you unbelievably attractive – don’t you want hair like that?

And now mainstream consumers are getting a bit more interested in the green factor as well. It still needs to be functional, but people generally want to know that it doesn’t come with a chunk of earth lost forever. And it is easy for consumers to make that choice when the green factor comes at no or little price difference – and when the environmental impact (or guilt) comes with the product. Buying a hybrid – easy, you know the impact that your car will have and you might just as well buy it if is functional enough, cool enough, at the right price etc. Same with light bulbs and food. No harm done – and generally not enough to hurt the wallet.

But what about diamonds or houses or clothes? There is a hidden guilt in these type of products. And our other needs will override our need to be greener. We know that we are already guilty of blowing money when we buy a diamond. Telling them that it is not green or that it comes from conflict areas won’t stop them from buying it. It’s a Tiffany’s ring and she wants it – we can just hope that Tiffany’s care enough for both of us. And forking out a lifetime of savings to buy or build a house makes you feel bad enough already. It’s the biggest investment you will make in your lifetime, but you will still blow an obscene amount of money – don;t even think of what you could have done with that money (Red Sox season tickets, a trip to Disney for the kids, Tiffany’s ring, and still have enough for the FJ Cruiser). And for that amount of money you want the best quality at the best price – and you really don’t care if it is green or not. Yes, you’ll tinker around the edges – if you have the luxury to spend a few bucks more to make it green. But in most cases you just want to save some money before you go bankrupt – and move the family in before the in-laws kick you out.

And clothes? It’s got to be either the hottest new brand or cheapest alternative – depending on where you stand on fashion and being cool. Either way, you don’t care much about the green factor of your clothes – you just want to wear it. Great if it is green, but don’t expect the brand or price factor to be influenced by the green factor. And we also know that there is a high probability that someone was exploited somewhere to ensure you have these clothes to wear. So who cares whether it is green or not – people already suffered making your clothes and you just switch off the guilt button when buying the clothes in the first place.

Green factors will continue to play a role – and hopefully more each day. But people will still buy what they want to buy at the price they want to pay. And sometimes they will pay a bit more for something that is green. Or buy an alternative brand if it is greener but still functional, cool and at the right price. But sometimes green will mean nothing. Not when we have so many other things to worry about – who made it, how many people got hurt or killed making it. We just switch off when it comes to certain products. Thinking about the impact on people or the planet would be too much for the average consumer to think about. Just keep Pandora’s box closed thank you.

So, don’t expect anyone to think about the environmental impact of blowup dolls soon? No one is worried whether Candy was made with renewable energy and made of recycled plastic.

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