OK, I've had it with the green movement.
I really can't stand it anymore. If I see or hear one more silly tip on how I can save the planet, I'm going to spend every last dollar I have and buy a Hummer.
And this is coming from a card-carrying member of the Liberal Media Elite (see earlier post)!
I have been a rabid environmentalist all of my life. Al Gore is my hero. I am in favor of $10 a gallon gasoline. My head pops off whenever I hear some oil industry lobbyist talk about getting their greedy hands on the Arctic wildlife refuge. On almost every major environmental issue you can think of, I am on the side of Greenpeace.
But the green lifestyle fanatics have pushed me over the edge. And I am not alone. There are signs that consumers have had enough with green marketing and PR campaigns. This has huge ramifications for the PR industry, which has counseled its clients to look in every nook and cranny of their organization to find something ---anything---that will reveal their green-ness. As companies have raced to tell the world of their newfound passion for the planet, these well-intentioned campaigns have had the opposite effect: People are tuning out the messages and showing widespread impatience with a confusing torrent of contradictory advice.
So widespread is this consumer vertigo that there is now a name for it: "green noise."
Everywhere we turn today there is a to-do list. Stop using disposable diapers. Don't drink bottled water. Support the bio-fuels industry, buy only organic clothes, grow your own vegetables, purchase food from local farmers only and stop driving that gas-guzzling SUV. I passed the newsstand the other day and saw this headline: "Is your pet 'green?'"
The problem that much of the advice is contradictory.
Just when you decided to buy that gas-sipping Prius, your best friend tells you that it would be better to snatch up a used car because the energy used to make a new car does more damage to the environment than the fuel-hogging 1979 Volvo.
Just when you decided to support those heroic farmers who grow corn for ethanol, you learn that you are now responsible for world hunger. And forget about buying those grass-fed, free ranging, yoga practicing chickens. The fuel it took to truck them to your farmers market in downtown Chicago did more to hurt the planet than those nasty, immoral chickens produced by the agribusiness down the road.
The problem, as The New York Times pointed out in an excellent story Sunday, is that much of the advice we're getting is contradictory and even damaging. Because it is so pervasive, so self-righteous and so utterly demanding in its tone, it creates a sense of helplessness among the consumers its targeting.
People literally throw up their hands and say, "look, I love our planet, I want to help, but I don't have the time to compost my own poop!"
f you think I'm alone in my frustration, consider this study from the Shelton group, a Knoxville-based advertising agency and marketing firm. In 2007, consumers surveyed by the company were between 22 and 55 percent less likely to buy green products than the year before.
“What we’ve been seeing in focus groups is a real green backlash,” Suzanne C. Shelton, the company’s president, told the New York Times. Consumers are literally rolling their eyes when Shelton's firm screens new green advertising themes, as if to say, "not another green message."
You know you have a problem when the Sierra Club begins worrying about message overload.
The true solution to climate change lies in public policy and massive shifts in economic energy inducements, the kind of sea-changes that can only be brought about by government initiatives, tax policy, public consensus and market-based solutions.
Consider this one fact:
Americans drove 11 billion fewer miles in May of 2008 when compared to the same month last year---11 billion fewer miles!---and all because of rising fuel costs.
All the poop composts and green pets in the world won't do as much for the environment as a $1 hike at the pump.
So let's all ease back on the green throttle and do our part to reduce "green noise" pollution.