Shift Your Habit: A New Approach to Marketing the “Green Lifestyle”

Shift%20Your%20Habit.pngThis isn’t a recent ad from Nissan, or the latest anti-smoking campaign from our friends Philip or Morris. Instead, it’s an up-and-coming attempt to simplify ecological living by putting the “friendly” back in “eco-friendly.” Shift Your Habit aims to affect behavior at an individual level, using approachable tips, tricks, and hints, as well as a stable of celebrity spokespeople to get the word out that you too can do something to live more consciously.

Brainchild of Elizabeth Rogers, co-author of the New York Times bestseller The Green Book, Shift Your Habit might at first glance look like any other of the eco-living advice sites out there: Daily tips? Check. Clean, “web 2.0” look? Affirmative. So what makes Ms. Rogers think that her approach will succeed where others have failed (Blue Egg, anyone?) – or indeed more intriguingly, succeed in the face of worthy adversaries like Sprig and EcoFabulous? (who, it should be known, have positively promoted SYH in a very sportsmanship-like way)
As it turns out, Ms Rogers has it figured out:

“Although there are many eco-websites that offer green tips, and many
that mention monetary savings, Shift Your Habit is unique in terms of
its emphasis on the personal benefits of “going green” as well as on
its attempt to quantify these benefits to the individual, household,
or organization.”

Indeed, the site does bring the costs – and benefits – down to a wholly digestible level. For example:
“We estimated that by using a refillable water bottle instead of buying throwaway ones, an individual can save $250 per year. A household that weatherstrips and caulks cracks in doors and windows can save $70 per year on cooling and heating bills. And a group of coworkers or classmates that carpool together twice a week can each save up to $130 or more per year in fuel costs.”
It does appear, then, that SYH stays true to its mission of teaching “individuals, households, companies, and other organizations the personal benefits (money, time, health, and well-being) of actions that are also good for the environment.” And you don’t have to take it from some blogger-nobody, either: Ms Rogers has amassed a steadily growing posse of positive celebrity icons who each weighs in with his or her own eco habits, as well as a vision for a greener world. With names like Owen Wilson and Eva Mendes on the books, Rogers’ project brings a certain measure of cachet and starpower that few eco-movements have managed to match.
SYH manages to maintain a sense of humor, too, which always helps when trying to spread the word:
“Saving the planet doesn’t mean you have to spend your life savings to install rooftop solar panels. It doesn’t mean giving up modern conveniences like automobiles and clothes dryers.

“And it doesn’t mean moving into a yurt or reverting to the Stone Age.”

Add to this practical approach a Shift Your Habit consulting practice that offers everything from behavioral training and group seminars, to speech coaching for the busy CSR exec, and it looks like the SYH team is bound to be busy as the green movement gains momentum.
But what makes SYH special is that it is, in my view, infinitely more approachable than the competition. Sure, it has a spartan look, but this means that there’s nothing to pull your attention elsewhere. No ads, no clutter, no mess. There are no lengthy advice pieces because there don’t need to be. No long-winded reviews of the latest products (that you’ll never use anyway). No extra material designed to draw as many eyeballs as possible and increase traffic. The end result is a simple, straightforward approach to environmentally sound living that is without pretense, attitude or fluff.
In the end, it seems, it’s the small shift that counts.
Keep your eyes peeled for Shift Your Habit, the book, due in early 2010.

A self-described surferpreneur working at the intersection of business, philanthropy and government. Based in San Francisco, an impressively fantastic place that is only eclipsed by the amazing people that live in it.

8 responses

  1. Being real is definitely at the core of SYH, and Rogers is certainly doing her best to keep it that way.
    EcoPlum is pretty neat too, though it has a different model. I wish there were a way to create an ecosystem online of “real” green living sites… ideas anyone?

  2. Shift Your Habit’s concise and uncluttered presentation is exceptionally user-friendly, and its emphasis on savings is certainly in tune with the times. What strikes me, though, is how many options are now available to help people who want to “do the right thing.” That’s great — and we need to move on to reaching the people who are not already converted. I fear they will never find sites like Shift Your Habit, because they are not looking. We still have a huge job to communicate to vast numbers of doubters and ostriches the seriousness of the problems we face. And I’d love to see an effort of similar simplicity and user-friendliness to sell the need for major systemic change to the public — and give people ways to act on that agenda.

  3. I totally agree – I have no qualms about spreading the Shift Your Habit word because it’s so user friendly. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said about many other “do the right thing” efforts (except, of course,
    It would be great to get a grassroots student movement going whereby middle and high schools pledge to follow SYH for an entire year. Can you imagine the benefits of getting so many converts so early on?

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