The Irresponsible Side of the Green Movement

By February 7, 2008Blog

Plenty of brands have jumped on the green bandwagon thanks to the publicity that Al Gore and his Nobel Peace Prize gave to the cause.

Leave it to corporate America to capitalize on environmentalism. Chevron has erected www.willyoujoinus.com, where a live counter ticks off the number of barrels of oil consumed during your visit. “To deliver the world’s energy, we need yours first,” the headline reads. They go on to ask users to register to “join the discussion”. Trendy yes, but productive toward a greener end? I’m not so sure. Those barrels of oil are still flying off the shelves.

I recently attended a conference where a guru from a branding firm specializing in ”greening” your corporate image spoke. He stressed that setting up a recycling program and printing on recycled paper isn’t enough – that you have to perpetuate a green position in the marketplace or your business is doomed.

I couldn’t disagree more. The companies that should be admired in extending our planet’s lifespan are those who quietly make real, quantifiable efforts every day. Not those who spend millions perpetuated their green image.

In Seth Godin’s Small is the New Big, he points out that work in general is far less quantifiable today than ever before. Sure, I responded to 42 emails today and I went to a meeting, but that’s not really work. What did I produce? Well, I also wrote two articles, generated three new ideas and made contact with two important people in my career today. But is that enough?

To that end, Godin writes, “It’s the people having difficult conversations, inventing remarkable products, and pushing the envelope… who are building a recession-proof future for themselves.” Those are also the folks who are steadily and humbly building a better environment for our future.

Godin goes on to encourage his readers, “So tomorrow, when you go to work, really sweat. Your time is worth the effort.” When it comes to green, pour your efforts into real change – not just the image of change. For now, I’m off to take out the recycling bin.

FOR DISCUSSION: Where Chevron is right is where they say, “Corporations, governments and every citizen of this planet must be part of the solution”. What real effort are you personally making toward a greener workplace? What is your company doing that’s working? How can you make a tangible difference in this crisis? How can you inspire others to do the same?