Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Less Green Mean Less Green?

Ever since the so-called financial meltdown, here's the question I am most often asked: "Does the economic uncertainty sound the death knell for the green movement?"

A fair question. But one that comes from the perspective that "green" is a luxury, an extra benefit, a charitable donation to the planet. And the belief that consumers will no longer be willing to "pay forward" for a better future.

But let's look at the facts: True green products do at least one of two things (and ideally both). They reduce the impact on resources in the way they are made; they reduce the impact on resources in the way they are used. They do more with less. Just what we all must do when times get a bit tougher. The demand for efficient and effective products increases when disposable income decreases.

So what should we expect? Increased investment in eco-industries like renewable materials, alternative energy, sustainable manufacturing, and technology that reduces our dependency on the old ways of doing things. More and better green products to meet a growing market need.

Come to think of it, maybe it is the end of the "green trend." Maybe. And hopefully. After all, a trend is short-lived, often without substance, applied and removed too easily, like fashion. It's this trend that leads to green washing, dubious sustainability claims, lower consumer trust and less real investment in product development.

Perhaps the greater consumer focus on cost-value will be just what we all need. Perhaps it will provide a better framing for the importance of sustainability beyond "saving the planet." Perhaps it will trigger innovation. Perhaps "green" will become boring, just part of doing business well.

Yep. That works for me. Now we just have to make it work for the consumer.

No comments: