I picked up a book recently called Shades of Green, which has a spectrum of eco tips for people based on how green they consider themselves, from dark green to light green.
It made me think about the different motivations for people thinking green and I thought it would be fun to play with a few stereotypes.
There’s the classic hippy crunchy granola end of the spectrum, where any form of consumerism is bad and should make you feel guilty. There tends to be a lot of sacrifice involved, which can turn off the vast majority who don’t particularly like how their feet look in Birkenstocks.
On the other end of the spectrum are people buying green because it’s stylish and trendy, like the Anya Hindmarch shopping bag last year. I think this is actually a good thing, because you can reach a lot more people through an attractive lifestyle than through preaching. I think that helping bring green mainstream is better than keeping it niche, even if the motivations aren’t as pure.
And then there’s the group motivated primarily by "greenbacks", who are jumping on the bandwagon because it’s so trendy. That’s where greenwashing comes in, and threatens to muddy the whole thing. Because consumers who feel like they’ve been duped because of shoddy eco claims will think twice the next time, even if they really want to do the right thing.
I played around with this theme a few years ago with this cartoon on organic foods.