EARTH DAY COUNTDOWN: The (Green) Maelstrom
I feel like I’m caught up in a maelstrom of green, green, green! After spending thirty years slogging through the environmental trenches, we seem to have had an “overnight success.”¯ Protecting the planet is all anyone seems to be talking about these days. In fact, as someone who used to be leading the pack, I know find it hard to keep up! Companies are frantically setting up recycling programs. Organizations are issuing reports hand over fist. Entrepreneurs are churning out new green gear and gadgets faster than a mouse breeds babies.
All of which makes for a very exciting time to have a new environmental book out — especially one that aims to make sense of what’s “green”¯ versus what’s being “greenwashed.”¯ That’s the question I’ve been asked most frequently, especially during the dozens of radio interviews I’ve done since the book’s pub date March 1. Everyone wants to do something to make a difference. Not everyone knows where to start, or what purchases are really worth the money. Words like “natural,”¯ “biodegradable,”¯ and “eco-friendly”¯ throw people for a loop. Do they really mean the product or service deserves Mother Nature’s green star? Not necessarily, and a big part of my job right now involves directing shoppers to certified goods that actually live up to their marketing claims.
I’ve been impressed that so many people have turned out to my book signings — given that another big concern for people who want to go green is lack of time! Most people don’t realize that being "eco" can actually simplify your life — sometimes I need to roll out the light bulb example to prove my point (a compact fluorescent light bulb lasts ten times as long as an incandescent, so put one in and forget about it for seven years”¦).
Speaking of light bulbs, perhaps what’s most gratifying about the book is watching the proverbial light bulb go on behind people’s eyes when they realize how much clout their consumer power has. This has been especially true for women, most of whom haven’t realized before that, because they spend $.85 of every dollar in the marketplace, they have the power to tell manufacturers what to make (rather than constantly hear from companies about what they should buy).
If not just the book sales, but the e-mails, too, are any indication, women are glad to throw off the old cliché about “loving to shop”¯ as they embrace their potential to become the true arbiters of the new green marketplace. What's not to love about that?