As Kermit famously said, “It’s not easy being green”. And then there are all the claims and counterclaims made about this product or that…

Reason #8: Inconvenience

Remember sorting all your recyclables into half a dozen different categories and taking them to the recycling center? Probably not, because even if the recycling center existed, the inconvenience would most likely have put you off.

Kerb-side collection programs make it far more convenient to recycle many items, and you probably have a bin at home that takes newspapers, plastic bottles, glass jars and metal cans. Sure, a little bit of sorting might be necessary, but it’s not so much different to taking out the regular rubbish. However, council collections don’t cater for everything that can be recycled. What are you doing with your old light globes, computers, phones, printer cartridges, plastic bags and lawn mowers? These can all be recycled, but their recycling rate is much lower than for, say, aluminium cans. Most people just can’t be bothered to find out about available programs, or to take the short trip to drop items off at recycling centers.

Reason #9: Greenwash fatigue and general confusion

On the one hand there are companies that make claims about the environmental benefits of their products that don’t stand up to scrutiny. On the other hand there are people who attempt to discredit green initiatives that do work. In between there are many cases where products have both positive and negative environmental outcomes. Palm oil is a renewable resource, but its cultivation destroys natural habitats. Bamboo can be made into great fabrics, but the process uses some nasty chemicals.

In the face of uncertainty, confusion and mistrust, even the people who do their own research may end up feeling either cynical or ambivalent about the sustainable options that are available.

Solution #8: Make it easy

It sounds obvious, but it’s often overlooked: the easier it is to buy from you, to use your product or to get on board with your service or cause, the greater the success you will enjoy.

Good intent often comes to nothing because most people just won’t take on any inconvenience that may be associated with using the more sustainable option.

In the early days of kerbside recycling collections papers had to be bundled and tied, glass jars and steel cans put into their own collection containers, and anything plastic wasn’t accepted. Now a wide range of items can all be dropped in the one bin. It may still take a little bit of thought, and two bins need to be put out instead of just one, but it is pretty easy.

Solution #9: Service the big end of town

Whether it’s due to image concerns, a genuine desire to improve environmental performance or to save money, many large companies do support a wide range of environmentally-positive initiatives. Some companies only go so far as the minimum standards require them to. Others show real commitment to achieving substantial goals.

It may yet turn out that it is large businesses, including some that have been part of the problem in the past, that will notch up the greatest achievements in pursuit of a sustainable future. Offering them the products and services they need to achieve their goals is one avenue open to the green marketer.

Back to Part 4

On to Part 6

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