As a proponent of changing individual lifestyles to reduce environmental waste, I encourage sustainable living to more than just my close circle of friends and family. Lately, almost every social gathering I go to, be it a night in Hollywood or a family get together, my involvement in sustainability comes to be a topic of discussion. As part of this discussion, more often than not, people express their utter exhaustion with “green.”
Green is everywhere now, from billboards to TV shows. People are just bombarded with green this and green that, with each message telling them what to do or what not to do.
As Adam Werbach eloquently explained in his recent piece in AdvertisingAge.
“The marketing industry has leapt on green…Consumers are resisting the proliferation of ‘green’ communications and products being pushed at them from all directions. The recent Cone/Boston College survey showed that more than half of American consumers are “overwhelmed” by the tsunami of environment-related messaging. Less than half trust companies to tell them the truth about sustainable practices and products. Even fewer consumers believe companies are accurately communicating their environmental impact.”
People don’t like to be told what to do. Even more so, consumers are dissatisfied when a promised eco-friendly product or service is in actuality no better for the environment. Moreover, there is still a large sentiment that “going green” is a sacrifice and takes a lot of work and money to accomplish.
To quote Adam Werbach once more:
“We are witnessing green fatigue on a grand scale. … It is also threatening the credibility — and sustainability — of the marketing industry itself. People with no technical expertise in the complex harmonies that sustainability demands, no capacity to help a company reinvent its products or processes, and no sense of urgency are promising quick fixes and cheap tricks.”
Selfishness is the new selflessness. Every decision, be it a habit or the purchase of a product or service, needs to be evaluated first on an individual level while understanding its environmental impacts. In essence, each mind needs to be remapped to a new thought process.
Do and don’t lists must stop and a new decision process be developed. Sustainability is about an efficient and effective living. Simply put, environmentalism cannot exist without selfishness at its core. An environmentally friendly action should not be about a sacrifice, but about well thought out decision.
People are willing to learn and understand, thus, the rhetoric now needs to change to efficient living rather than sacrificial living. The exposure of thought processes behind making sustainable decisions must come to the forefront through innovative media endeavors and websites. Green fatigue will then cease to exist because the method of making these decisions will be an ever-improving evolutionary process immune from reaching a plateau.
Engaging in mental exercises that take into account one’s wallet, the environment, and personal benefits will help accelerate the evolution of the mind in this new era of sustainability. Of course, learning the benefits and drawbacks of habits, products, and services is necessary for these mental exercises to take place. Conservation is the first step, then progress will follow.
Argam DerHartunian is co-Founder and CIO of Creative Citizen, a website that informs individuals about daily actions that reduce environmental waste. He has blogged at VentureBeat about clean-tech companies. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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