Filed under: Energy + Climate, J840 Week 2 | Tags: green, Marketing, patriotic, Thomas Friedman
The word green is often used as an adjective for environmentally-friendly or as shorthand for the environmental movement. It is possible that the word green has been widely adopted because it doesn’t have the radicalism associated with the environmental movement (especially in the 1970s but also with groups like Earth First and the Earth Liberation Party).
In the U.S., the term “green” has largely become a marketing term, in the sense that it is mostly used to sell products and ideas. However, this is not a necessarily a bad thing, especially in a consumerist culture like the U.S, where we express our personalities often through what we purchase. Therefore, defining products as green might be a pragmatic approach to some of our environmental problems, because, increasingly, many consumers self-identify as “green.” Marketers are also realizing that labeling things green helps move their products off the shelf. According to an article in Brandweek magazine, a national survey “found that a product’s ‘energy footprint’ influences 77 percent for consumers’ purchasing decisions, with 76 percent willing to pay more at the register for environmentally-friendly products.” Aaron Franklin, project director at study sponsor ORC Guideline , issued a statement saying, “The study’s findings seem to debunk a common perception that people will go green as long as it doesn’t cost them. In fact …people seem to be willing to put their money where their values are.” The danger in this is that the term “green” risks being co-opted and abused to near meaninglessness.
I agree with Thomas L. Friedman that being green means being patriotic. In an April 15, 2007 piece in The New York Times Magazine, Friedman wrote, “I want to rename ‘green.’ I want to rename it geo-strategic, geo-economic, capitalistic and patriotic. I want to do that because I think that living, working, designing, manufacturing, and projecting America in a green way can be the basis of a new unifying political movement for the 21st century. A redefined, broader and more muscular green ideology is not meant to trump the traditional Republican and Democratic agendas but rather to bridge them when it comes to addressing the three major issues facing every American today: jobs, temperature, and terrorism.” (As a side note, terrorism is also partially abetted by oil profits. This presents a much more immediate threat to some than global warming.)
Encouragingly, everyday there are signs of more and more convergence in terms of disparate interest groups, such as large corporations, environmental groups, and consumers, coming together to address environmental problems in practical, less radical, and even profitable ways. However, Americans tend to have short attention spans.
— Ian Nyquist
4 Comments so far
Leave a comment