‘Green’ is browning at the edges

Your lifestyle is wrong, etc

The whole ‘green’ thing has been jumped on by brands with the energy of Super Mario. I must declare an interest by saying that I think recycling should be easy and compulsory, thrift is a good thing generally and I would be happier if all our electricity came from carbon neutral sources (the popular suspicions about nuclear energy are just an offence against reason). I also like the idea of ethanol powered cars as this would not only make motoring more environmentally friendly but would stop us subsidising the worst regimes on Earth with an unnecessary oil habit. I do find the neo-Puritanism of people puzzling over futile food miles, tutt-tutting at short haul flights (which in carbon terms are of sub-atomic relevance compared to deforestation) or haughtily considering the immorality of everday life more than a bit annoying. But as a marketer I’ve realised that the whole green thing is a gold mine…

…For now, anyway. Because the truth will out sooner or later that the UK is less important in carbon terms than bad breath in a wind-tunnel. The big issue is the growth of emissions in a surging China and developing world. Yes, they still are low in per-capita terms but to excuse them is to accept the dislogic that if you are late to the party it is ok to set fire to the house. These are hard, global issues that can only be solved on such a scale and (frighteningly) may not be solved at all.

In the news today I saw that China has now been named as the biggest polluter of all. It is only a matter of time before everyone realises the scale of things and stops responding so readily to the whole ethical angle. People like to feel more important and moral than their peers, but no-one likes to realise their conscience is being abused. Marketers need to tread carefully and focus on the more solid thrift aspect of green more over time or else risk being exposed as cynics at best or irrelevant hippie hucksters at worst.

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