Going “Green” Means Two Things

I’m all for saving the earth. It’s where I live and all. You too, probably.

However, when it comes to “going green,” I tend to think and act in terms of dolla dolla bill y’all as much, if not more so, than in terms of hugging the nearest tree.

I suspect I’m not alone. In fact, I suspect I am in the great majority.

Times are indeed tough, as noted in our previous post regarding gas prices. When I moved to Rhode Island from Philly last summer, I suddenly needed a car. My first thought was “Prius.” But I did the math and the cost savings versus a traditional car just weren’t there. And that was the primary driver behind investigating a hybrid: cost savings.

Fact is, going green for me almost always means saving green. And as the cost of seemingly everything continues to skyrocket, my everyday behavior has changed dramatically. I’m shutting off lights. I’m turning off power strips. I’m coasting to red lights on the rare occasions I use a car. In my head, I’m hearing those pennies plink, plink, plinking down into my bank account, and it feels good.

As economic conditions continue to get cloudier, I remember my grandfather and the “waste not, want not” ways that not only got our family and millions of others through the Great Depression, but also taught our family and millions of others during times of relative plenty not to forget where they came from and what they went through.

I call this ethic “informed consumption.” It’s how my partner and I are living, and it’s how many other people are living right now. It’s what “going green” really means for many, many Americans. It’s not a cause; it’s a newfound commitment to a more reasonable and sustainable way of life. It’s checking ourselves before wrecking ourselves.

So when you’re marketing “green” concepts like energy efficiency to consumers, don’t be afraid to play up the less glamorous, less feel-good angle of cost savings at the expense of the more cuddly angles, like kids running through fields or the increased chances of survival for polar bears.

The thing is, America is more about “rugged individualism” than ever now. Self-interest almost always trumps communal interest–especially these days, when it’s becoming more “every man/woman for him/her self” seemingly by the minute. What’s amazing is that energy efficiency/environmental consciousness and self-interest aren’t mutually exclusive any more; in fact, they are joined at the hip. And because of that, we have a better chance of promoting both, and succeeding in those endeavors.

So marketers, be sure to see “green” for what it is: not as a political issue, but as an economic issue.

And once you do, you’ll likely sell quite a few energy-efficient, environmentally friendly products along the way.

Americans and polar bears will thank you.

Posted by: Joe Paone

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