So the mass launch of the 'environmental movement' is widely credited, at least in part, to Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring,' published in 1962. The book heavily criticized the use of pesticides, specifically DDT, and lead to it's eventual ban in the USA in 1972, citing side effects on birds, other wildlife, and even humans. Pretty substantial, right?
Fast forward 38 years.
What started as a social movement has become a social STATUS. It's become fashionable to buy green products, and people are buying - we're at a climax of what is commonly referred to as 'the green movement.' According to an article from Environmental Leader, 4 out of 5 people are buying at least some 'green' products - even with often larger price tags, and even in the current economical climate. Other surveys inflate that number to as much as 95%.
So...this is good right? What could possibly be wrong with that?
I think back to our group presentations from a couple weeks back. Big tobacco is receiving harsh criticism that they're misleading consumers. Critics claim that 'light' cigarettes is misleading consumers to believe that they are healthier for them, and will have less worries when smoking - even though smokers will smoke more and inhale deeper to achieve the same effect as smoking a regular cigarette, thereby negating the 'light' part of the equation.
Perhaps a better metaphor is presented by an article in the New York Times:
"It's as though the millions of people whom environmentalists have successfully prodded to be concerned about climate change are experiencing a SnackWell's moment: confronted with a box of fat-free devil's food chocolate cookies, which seem deliciously guilt-free, they consume the entire box, avoiding any fats but loading up on calories."
Remember the atkins diet? Skipping toast for breakfast but eating 6 extra slices of bacon isn't going to do most people a whole lot of good.
Transition back to the point. Many consumers are buying recycled toilette paper or all natural soap and feel like they have made their contribution to the environment. Really, it's the people that are taking shorter showers, riding their bikes to work, and generally consuming less waste generating goods that are making real difference. Sure, 'green' products are generally probably better for the environment than their 'normal' counterparts, but the change made in a consumer switch pales in comparison to changes made in behavior - that is to say, 'green' products for many are an easy out, effectively paying money to bury guilt, as it's the easiest way to "make a difference." I'll be the first to admit that I haven't made a strong commitment to changing my own personal behavior to adhere to a green lifestyle - but I'll also be the first to point out that I'm aware of that, and that I'm not convincing myself of otherwise by buying green.
Enter design. There's no question that small businesses and global corporations alike have taken notice to these 'green' consumer trends. According to another survey, almost half of young adults look for some sort of seal or authentication of green products. Whether something is completely organic, chemical free, and made from 100% post consumer paper, OR made with 10% less bleach than the normal awful-for-the-environment product, sellers want buyers to know that green products are in fact green (or at least pretending to be), and we're the ones making sure that happens. If you were trying to be kitchy, you could say that green is the new black - it has the status, and it's being exploited to the fullest, by our clients, through us.