Case Study: Green Moms Carnival

A great example of Fifth Estate civic engagement is the rise of Green Moms Carnival. Comprised of self-organized green Mom bloggers, these family leaders gathered together to blog on selected universal topics to highlight the important role mothers play in the environmental movement. These carnivals of blog posts were slated for once or twice a month, and continue today.

Ironically, it was a snub that caused the moms to self-organize. “When we launched in August, 2008, the important role of mothers in the environmental movement was largely overlooked,” said Founder Lynn Miller. “In fact, it was the complete exclusion of ‘Green Mom’ bloggers from the green page on Guy Kawasaki’s new Alltop site that led me to reach out to all of the top green Mom bloggers in order to submit them to Alltop for consideration.”

Through Green Moms blog carnivals focused on a common topic of environmental concern, the moms sought to create online environmental activism. Further, they wanted raise awareness of broader environmental issues beyond each blogger’s narrow area of expertise.

Engagement

To start, the Green Moms Carnival would select a topic. One mom would then unify and summarize the posts on one macro “carnival” page. They would use a group Twitter account with feeds of the posts, FaceBook, and a private email list serve.

For example, bloggers who typically wrote about conventional “green parenting” topics such as non-toxic toys, organic food, green décor or gardening wrote their very first blog posts about climate change due to the Green Moms Carnival. This increased environmental issue awareness, not just for the readers, but also for critical influencers. In one case, Lynn Miller said that none of the moms would have blogged about coal were it not for the influence of a member who lives in Coal Country.

Results

The Green Moms Carnivals have reached millions of people and have spawned thousands of comments. The efforts were notable anough that the Green Moms were named among “the most extraordinary women of 2009” by See Jane Do.

Influence spread to larger environmental NGOs who started using the carnival postings as content for fund raising and action alerts to their membership. Organizations that used the content included Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families; Healthy Child, Healthy World; The Environmental Working Group; Breast Cancer Fund; Women’s Voices for the Earth; and The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

When the effort was launched in August, 2008, the important role of mothers in the environmental movement was largely overlooked. Today, the influential role of “”Ecomoms”” and “”Green Moms”” is substantial. They have participated in the filming of documentaries on these subjects, attended events on Capitol Hill in support of legislation, and had our blog posts re-posted on NGO websites. This attention may have happened anyway, given the convergence of the “green movement” and “Digital Moms,” but at the forefront has been the Green Moms Carnival, a force in raising awareness and moving hearts and minds towards eco-awareness.

“We have had employees of large multinationals approach us and thank us for our work, telling us that our demands for safer, greener, cleaner products makes it easier for them to get new innovations approved within their companies,” said Lynn Miller. “We’ve also had CEOs tell us that ours are the voices that are being listened to – that we are an important force for change. It would have been very easy to ‘sell out’ to commercial interests or even non-profit interests given all the interest in the ‘Mom space,’ but our stature as an independent alliance of top green bloggers enhances our credibility, our authenticity, and the uniqueness of our point of view.”

GreenMyParents Gets Ready for Earth Day

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As soon as we finish the Run/Walk for Water on Sunday (have you registered yet?), it will be the week leading up to Earth Day. Many environmental organizations use Earth Day as a centerpoint to start or end initiatives for environmental awareness. We wanted to take a look at one that our DC-based friend Lynn Miller has taken on: GreenMyParents.

GreenMyParents is a movement that activates & enlists kids to lead their families in measuring & reducing environmental impact at home & “challenge” their parents to share savings with kids. The goal is to save $100 Million for American families by teaching kids how their families can save $100 by going green.

This year, GreenMyParents will launch and initiative on Earth Day with a youth-led webinar via The National Wildlife Federation’s SchoolTube.com. The webinar is scheduled for 1 pm EDT. The Green Your Parents book will be downloadable on Earth Day as well.

Earth Day is just the beginning. GreenMyParents plan to run this program for an entire year and hope to have chapters in every school in America.

I like this approach because when kids start talking, parents are much more likely to pay attention. This is something the Gates Foundation focused on with their ED campaign three years ago.

What Earth Day efforts are you participating in?

Geoff Livingston is a regular contributor to the Live Earth blog.

Should Third Parties Counter Greenwashing?

Still Water Life

I attended a green social media marketing panel last night in Washington, DC that included Sacha Cohen, Jennifer Kaplan, Diane MacEachern, Lynn Miller, Adam Shake and moderator Kate Sheppard. The panelists got bogged down in tools, but eventually transitioned to how to positively create more movement on green behavioral change and technology adoption. At the heart of the matter is the many greenwashing issues, as well as distrust of bloggers who blindly recommend initiatives.

One panelist (and forgive me because I was in the back) posed the concept of using third party validators to formally counter greenwashing initiatives. The use of trustworthy third parties will counter the distrust of green oil salesmen, so to speak. Ironically, the FTC has a similar idea in mind.

I like this as it’s clear that many people see green as an opportunity to cash in. Most simply go green for the value and increasingly smart business sense that goes with sustainability. Some have clearly taken that opportunity and stretched the ethical norm to achieve their goals. I believe protecting consumers and good businesses from the few bad apples is something that will hasten adoption.

My fear with this whole third party validation model is putting too much trust in one basket. I prefer to see an organization like Consumer Reports test and validate greenness than an official green body or worse, the government. This may be a role for an industry association, too. I think a couple of trustworthy third parties would be great.

The worse thing that could happen is flushing more tax dollars down the drain on another red herring… I wonder whether the FTC is the right body or if it should be the EPA, and its Energy Star programs. One hand doesn’t use the other, clearly.

Perhaps I am jaded after living in DC for 18 years. What are your thoughts on third parties countering green washing.

Geoff Livingston is a regular contributor to the Live Earth blog.