Buying into Green

Props to TreeHugger for calling out some simple, low-tech alternatives to hyped ‘green’ products — go to the library instead of buying a Kindle, put your organic waste in a yard pile instead of a fancy compost machine, etc.

They’re 100% right.  But here’s the problem: libraries and banana-peel piles don’t tell the same brand stories that snazzy devices do.  They don’t give casual consumers the same tools to publicly and personally articulate their identities.  They don’t capture the imagination of new segments.

In my dissertation at the LSE, I relied on a heap of social theory and some primary research to argue that “environmental citizenship is unavoidably an issue of consumption,” a phenomenon I called ‘banal environmentalism.’  Essentially, the argument is that “an energy efficient identity is a matter of consciously mediated constructions of narrative citizenship articulated and maintained through everyday consumptive decisions.”

In other words, when we want to make ‘green’ part of our idenity, most of us have to buy stuff in order to tell that story — to others and to ourselves.  Sure, it’s ironic.  But it’s a fact we have to live with.  The challenge is building a marketplace of genuinely effective products that also tell genuinely powerful brand stories.

© Ryan Cunningham 2008

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thoughts at the collision of business, brand and creativity

I'm Ryan Cunningham. I help companies and culture play nice with each other. At CREATURE we call this Brand Strategy, a term that carries a nice halo of reliability and structure. Here, I'm just another guy who thinks about the world and writes it down from time to time.

The result is a pile of knowledge to be used in, and for, the future. Feel free to sift through the heap for useful connections.

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