Holiday presents — consumerism at its best — represent the great opportunity for all retailers. Merchants and product manufacturers seek brisk sales to ensure a profit for the year, thus the naming convention of “Black Friday.” Yet, instead of embracing consumerism, which coincidentally drives green product sales, most green bloggers and information outlets engage in Buy Nothing Day, an effort to protest consumerism.
The logic lies from a spiritual ethos of abstinence and self-driven worth to the more well-grounded idea of reducing carbon footprints. Yet, what green supporters fail to realize is how the Grinch-like attitude actually hurts the larger cause.
People will still buy gifts for their loved ones! One can moralize quite a bit about the idea of a product representing love, but the symbolic gift ingrained in this culture’s ethos will not be reversed. No one can imagine showing up to their parents’ house without a gift, even if it was something as simple as a beautifully written letter or a collage.
This gets back to why environmentalists continually fail in their efforts to affect change. Their outreach engages in a school marmish finger wagging exercise in punishing consumers for being bad. It’s like the Grinch who Stole Christmas. As if the economy wasn’t enough guilt!
Making people feel bad for buying anything is not smart. Making people feel like heroes for buying green AND saving the world seems like a brilliant idea, and one that enhances the panache of green.
The Nature Conservancy’s Green Gift Monday effort works because it embraces consumerism instead of shunning it. Green Gift Monday seeks to channel some of the inevitable consumer energy ($890 million last year) towards “responsible, meaningful holiday gifts.” Included are green gift buying lists from the likes of TreeHugger and of course, charitable actions.
While The Nature Conservancy has some corporate backing in its effort, the larger green industry missed this boat. Consider that U.S. News and World Report’s holiday gift guide has one green product in it. Not one of the electronic devices on Mashable’s Gift Guide is green.
It’s not hard to see, this Christmas green is not sexy. Grinching green doesn’t help. Until green becomes well marketed and sexier, consumer focus and behavioral change won’t occur.