J500 Media and the Environment

Seeing the Forest Through the Trees – Understanding Sustainability. by matthewj77
October 18, 2008, 1:26 pm
Filed under: Society + Media | Tags: , ,

“We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” This Native American proverb is a perfect example of what David Clark said about connecting and communicating as it relates to sustainability. It makes an emotional connection, and it’s persuasive. There’s a lot of hullabaloo out there about “going green.” People don’t understand it, and if my assumption is correct in thinking the majority of people in the world are like me, they don’t know where to look to find simple answers. So what do they do? They either ignore it or are slow to adopt change. This is why communication is so important, and David’s time was so valuable to us on Friday.


I found this cool site called The Story of Stuff, a great storytelling piece that not only lays out that the green movement as not just environmental, but social. It’s authentic, emotional and simple. But maybe most importantly, it engages its audience with a different viewpoint, which is something else David stressed is of enormous importance when communicating about these issues, or for that matter, communicating in general. The Story of Stuff focuses on how consumerism in the U.S. is out of control and how the system behind it is in no way helpful. I guess it’s not surprise, then, to see the increased interest in green products. But to truly be sustainable, our consumer-driven society needs clear and direct communication to help aid us in purchasing the right green products. There’s a curiosity out there, so people are listening, but it’s people like David and sources like the Story of Stuff that can help craft and deliver the message the right way. And, the simple way.

Matt J.


4 Comments so far
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Emotion has often been a tactic advertisers use to sell it. When it’s individual consumers and their loved ones, that’s an easy benefit to communicate. Can you use emotion and the “it’s the right thing to do” messaging as effectively in a B2B environment? What if there is not financial benefit to going green? What if it’s simply the right thing to do? How do you get a black and white and “what’s the bottom line” CFO to give a darn?

Comment by jillwilder14

I am so glad you dug this up, Matt. We’re already slated to watch the piece in class. I don’t want to steal my own thunder but what do you think of Leonard’s comment, “If you don’t own or buy a lot of stuff, you don’t have value.” How does this relate back to what we discussed about GDP valuation?

Comment by j500

Jill, to answer your question about whether this emotional connection can be achieved in a B2B environment, if we listen to what David told us, yes. While the decision-makers, shareholders and stakeholders of these corporations are important as it pertains to turning a profit, they’re still just people too, and they as well as they’re children are affected by the environmental and social issues we’re talking about. It may be a mistake not to listen to the goal of attaining sustainability, but it’s not about the mistake, it’s about what they can do about it.

To answer your question, Simran, about Annie Leonard’s comment, “if you don’t own or buy a lot of stuff, you don’t have value,” to quote the recently resurgent band Metaliica, it’s sad but true (yes I’m a dork). I can definitely relate to this idea being a marketer. Our favorite customers are early adopters. And what do early adopters do? They’re constantly buying the newest stuff – the latest iPod or iPhone, or super-techy computer, or the latest baby toys. And they’re doing it at the expense of our world’s dwindling resources. But, they’re PROFITABLE, or in the system Annie speaks of, they add value. I’ve been struggling in this class to determine how these issues are something I can tackle as a marketer, and the answer is becoming pretty clear. It’s through partnership with those in the roles of corporate social responsibility that marketers can help bring the internal message to the external audience. It’s through leading by example. By doing the right thing, my job should get easier, especially in the times of two-way communication with consumers. We can walk the talk, but we as a corporate culture need to collectively do it quickly and quit dragging our feet.

Comment by matthewj77

Cool site, thanks for sharing. I agree with your assumption that lack of understanding and knowledge leads one to either ignore it or they become slow to adopt change. As David pointed out communication is key. One point that I especially enjoyed from David is when he challenged us to recall our very own process of how we have come to learn what we know about sustainability and the environment. Also, to be open to other perspectives, be curious and be a good listener. All comments seem basic but what good reminders as it is the basics we tend to forget.

An interesting book, The Green Bible, provides insight into “God’s vision for creation and helps one engage in the work of healing and sustaining the environment”(www.greenletterbible.com/).

~Jennifer W

Comment by jenjenku

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