A friend forwarded this Treehugger article without comment to a collection of designers and eco-minded thinkers today. It addresses the problem of lazy green branding (as in papyrus font and images of cupped hands cradling a seedling, among others) and is worth a read:So... what do you all think? Comments please!
It reminded me of this recent Orion article about how we've become so consumption minded. Slightly longer, but definitely worth the time:
I also dashed off this email, which I hope can start a conversation here about the apparent divide between the two sets of ideas:
This seems like an excellent opening for a conversation about "marketing green," and I hope y'all will forgive the mass email response.
The article is certainly spot on as far as it goes with marketing advice. One of the things that strikes me and bothers me about the article, though (and about treehugger in general), is this idea that marketing CAN save the world; that we can either convert businesses to be ecologically friendly or we can produce new greener product lines that will replace the old. There's no doubt that there's a worthy goal in there, and that anyone who is starting a new greener business or greening their old business should be lauded.
There's an important article in the most recent Orion (May/June) titled The Gospel of Consuption, found here: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/2962
Here's the gist of it:
In a 1927 interview with the magazine Nation’s Business, Secretary of Labor James J. Davis provided some numbers to illustrate a problem that the New York Times called “need saturation.” Davis noted that “the textile mills of this country can produce all the cloth needed in six months’ operation each year” and that 14 percent of the American shoe factories could produce a year’s supply of footwear. The magazine went on to suggest, “It may be that the world’s needs ultimately will be produced by three days’ work a week.”
By the late 1920s, America’s business and political elite had found a way to defuse the dual threat of stagnating economic growth and a radicalized working class in what one industrial consultant called “the gospel of consumption”—the notion that people could be convinced that however much they have, it isn’t enough.
I don't know how to deprogram the now world-wide desire for the new. I'm not even sure we can. It does strike me, though, that building a LEED house is less green than building no house at all, and that buying well marketed green fashion is less green than the thrift store or making do with what we've got. I'm not saying anything new here, but I did want to use the opportunity of this article to ask the question - how do we sell the idea of not wanting anything new? How do we build an economy and make our livings around the idea of not buying stuff?
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Green Branding vs. The Gospel of Consumption
We don't get a whole lot of comments on this blog; hopefully some of you are willing to throw in some pennies worth of your thoughts on this one.