I often watch my favorite childhood film, “The Muppet Movie,” with my son.
Dom DeLuise makes his entrance in Kermit’s swamp, rowing frantically, asking for help.
“I’m lost. I’m lost. I’m truly lost,” he exclaims.
“Have you tried Hare Krishna?” Kermit responds.
To some, this is a groaner; to others, this is funny; to others, this is offensive.
But everyone LOVES humor.
Similarly, who loves green? The short answer: everyone.
Over the past five years, green marketing has gone from marginal, risky and controversial to a ubiquitous, mature and mainstay practice.
Traditionally, advertisers were conscious of alienating so-called “conservative consumers,” who are allegedly averse to green, based on their political or social leanings.
But now that green marketing and merchandising has gained mainstream acceptability, the obvious question is: “Were consumers always open to green, or were advertisers just missing something all along?”
Like humor, theoretically, everyone is into green, to one extent or another. We are, after all, natural organisms. The neighborhoods with the highest house prices are always situated in areas with ample combinations of big trees, lots of sunshine, or water access.
Even the extreme pessimist has to admit that everyone’s bottom line depends on nature itself. Broadly defined, that Porsche, cell phone, laptop and big-screen TV are all products of good ol’ natural resources. One hundred percent of the TV-watching audience, therefore, has at least an indirect interest in nature.
The more I reflect on this problem, the more I realize advertisers were engaging in a form of collective self-deception, thinking that there was some huge class of people who did not care – in some deep and meaningful way -- about some environment or another.
One might cite climate change deniers as a cross-section of people who aren’t interested in global environmental factors. However, the fact that these individuals so doggedly deny climate change is proof that they do care, and they know everyone else does. If they truly didn’t care about climate change, they wouldn’t put so much effort into denying the verity of the claims. (Note: if you want to see what actually “not caring” looks like, just witness the reaction of a teenager to a parental warning.)
Our history books are filled with green activism, across politically and socially divergent classes. My favorite example can be found in this remarkably under-viewed film about the conservation history of Big Cypress Swamp (a/k/a: the Everglades).
In the late 1960s, a jetport was to be built in association with Miami International Airport. An initial runway was actually paved, prompting a “coalition of unlikely cohorts” to join forces and halt the development. Environmentalists, hunters, Hispanics, labor unions, Miccosukee Indians, liberals and conservatives were all part of the coalition.
Surveyors depended on alligator poachers to transport them in their airboats. According to environmental activist Joe Browder, the poachers would call him at the Audubon office, giving him inside information on proposed development locations. Audubon would then buy up land right in the middle of the proposed zone.
Eventually, the hard work and ingenuity of poachers, palm tree huggers and politicians paid off. Big Cypress National Preserve was established in 1974, and Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve was created the same year.
Conclusion: ask not whether someone is green, ask “what green are you?”
Next month, I will provide a list of green market segments and green personality types, cutting across many demographic categories. By all means, please share in the comments section, if you’ve encountered a surprisingly green persona in an unlikely place.