Earth Day: Pimp Your Eco-Products Here!

The planet’s day is here once again, and, as sustainable business bloggers have been noticing the companies we work with seem hell-bent on using it as an opportunity to move product.

I like a nice hemp towel as much as the next gal, but something about using a day dedicated to the environment to promote consumerism just rubs me the wrong way. In the words of one colleague, David Quilty, (on Facebook) “since when did Earth Day become a holiday you’re supposed to buy people presents for?” Well said, my friend.

I thought I would apply some science to the topic, since I’m a data nerd at heart. I collected all the earth day pitches I have received over the past month (!) to see if my sense that a lot of them were thinly veiled ads for products was actually correct. I’ve received 63 pitches to date, and 33 of them were product advertisements. Over 50%. Wowza! 

Some of them, like this umbrella that collects rainwater, are admittedly pretty neat. Others feature dubious health and environmental claims: this line of crystal salt lamps, the PR rep tells me, “offers a natural air-purifying solution: they increase the negative ion count [in the air]. The lamps benefit asthma patients, people with chronic lung illnesses and allergy sufferers.” Good to know. Please don’t buy that for any allergy or asthma sufferers for Earth Day or any other holiday in the hopes of easing their symptoms. All this product shilling makes for quite a hollow celebration.

Some of you might be wondering what earth day *should* be about, if not an opportunity to buy presents for each other and take the afternoon off to pick up trash. Well, here at 3p, every day is earth day, so we don’t make a habit of doing a lot of Earth Day coverage. What started out as a grassroots event to draw political attention to conservation efforts hasn’t changed very much– most of the Earth Day activities you’ll see still involve action to improve our public natural spaces. But, since 1970 the environment sure has changed. Things are a lot worse off for the planet then they were 40 years ago. We have climate change, mercury in our fish, toxic runoff, air pollution, full-to-bursting landfills, and all the other doom and gloom issues you know too well. But we also have a much clearer understanding of the solutions to these problems: cleaner energy, increased efficiency, lower consumption, local food, green jobs training, and cap and trade, to name a few.

Today will be like any other day for me- working away to bring you great news and commentary from the sustainable business world. But I’ll also ride my bike to work, enjoy the sun, and eat a home cooked meal prepared with local ingredients with friends. I’ll be toasting Earth Day with some organic wine, but most of all I’ll be toasting the fact that the one improvement we’ve made since 1970 is how gosh darn easy and enjoyable it’s become to live a sustainable life. Will you join me?

Jen Boynton

Jen Boynton is editor in chief of TriplePundit and editorial director at 3BL Media. With over 6 million annual readers, TriplePundit is the leading publication on sustainable business and the Triple Bottom Line. Prior to TriplePundit, Jen received an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School. In her work with TriplePundit she's helped clients from SAP to PwC to Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA -- court appointed special advocate for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.

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