The Nature Conservancy Extends Green Gift Monday to 2011

Green Bag
Image by ZoofytheJinx

Last November, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) put together an effort on the fly to encourage environmentally friendly holiday gifts (see Green Christmas post). Dubbed Green Gift Monday, the grassroots effort sought to create a guerilla consumer movement on Cyber Monday that encourages environmentally sound holidayshopping. Encouraged by the initial marketplace reaction, TNC has decided to extend and expand the program into 2011.

Green Gift Monday.jpegLaunched two weeks before Cyber Monday, TNC generated support from over 65+ blogs, nonprofits, and eco-retailers participate. There were 900 uses of the hashtag #GGM2010 and an additional 500 mentions of the phrase “Green Gift Monday” in the social media space. TNC had its #2 traffic day on its blog, Cool Green Science (the number one day dealt with the Gulf oil spill).

Now that attention and interest are apparent, the Nature Conservancy will expand the program for 2010. The organization has proof of concept to offer potential Green Gift Monday partners, and hopefully turn it into a consumer movement.

“This year was our test run – now we have results to share with potential partners,” said Amy Ganderson, Associate Director, Digital Marketing at The Nature Conservancy. “Like most campaigns, people like to see who else is involved before they jump on board. So for next year, we’re in a better position to start earlier and make it even bigger.”

The organization will likely extend its grassroots activities to Facebook event, a live Twitter chat, and other tactics. But most important for TNC is moving beyond awareness to demonstrate true results to the marketplace.

“Tactics are easy wins for us, but the real question is how can we quantify our collective efforts to give green,” asked Ganderson. “Do we launch a petition, can we quantify how much revenue is driven to our partners from the event, that’s the direction we need to go in to show that we’re truly making a difference with Green Gift Monday.”

Congratulations to TNC for moving the ball forward with Green Gift Monday!

Geoff Livingston is a frequent contributor to the Rare Planet blog Adventures in Conservation.

How the Grinch Stole Green Christmas

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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.