Opinion - It’s April 22, and there is absolutely no way I could have possibly forgotten. For the past couple of weeks my e-mail inbox and unfortunately even my postal mailbox has been flooded with marketing materials. Promotions for eco-friendly and green products, sales in the name of the special day, it would seem that as many corporations and businesses as possible are trying to capitalize on the event, which was originally established in 1970 as a grassroots attempt to gain environmental awareness.
It would seem, the original purpose of the day has been lost. Environmental awareness, sustainability and green living are not just for one day of the year. It’s a commitment. It’s a dedication. And it’s actually for those of us who are committed, a way of life.
Many companies are utilizing Earth Day as an opportunity to make more money and draw more business, though their efforts seem positive, the results aren’t. Subscribers to Newsweek can utilize the cover from the April 14 issue and fold it into an envelope and use it to send plastic bags to Target. In exchange these individuals will receive a reusable tote bag. If you shop at Macy’s, you can make a $5 donation to the National Park foundation, for a 10% to 20% off discount during the weekend of April 26. The company is also giving away reusable totes and saplings.
Do these companies and corporations jumping on the Earth Day bandwagon not realize that excessive e-mail campaigns, print marketing and even airing commercials is utilizing renewable resources, and wasting energy? The issue here is that the practices being utilized are not green, nor environmentally friendly. These advertising campaigns which are costing companies a pretty penny are being launched via direct mail, store catalogs, in store signage, newspaper advertising, and television campaigns.
I think it is great that companies are gaining awareness for the movement. However, their practices are not environmentally friendly and they do not reflect the movement in which these companies are pumping, or profiting from. Though many of the campaigns attempt to or maintain the Earth Day message by contributing to a good environmental cause, the issue is two-fold. What is the environmental impact of the campaign in itself?
Consumers are becoming skeptical, and feel that they should avoid the green arena all together, as these days every company, and every product comes in a “Green” form. What is truly green? What is truly sustainable? Many individuals believe that all organic clothing is “green”, these words are thought to be interchangeable. People don’t realize that a product sold to them as “green” could in fact be manufactured using chemicals, or utilizing a process which is damaging to the environment in general.
The more the concept of green, and eco-friendly is pushed on consumers, the less they will be responding, and soon it will become lost, another commercialized holiday with no impact or true message concerning its original roots.
The green-marketing guides were last updated in 1998, and the Federal Trade Commission began reviewing the guide in November. This move is in response to claims of green-washing and the onslaught of green and eco-friendly ad campaigns.
I won’t be celebrating Earth Day today. I celebrate Earth Day every day. We have been given the gift of life, and we have been given the power to protect our environment. I urge you to utilize that ability on a daily basis. Do I feel that you should abandon your lifestyle and change everything that you do, and think solely of the environment? Absolutely not. Do I feel that you should be environmentally aware? Yes, of course.
Environmental awareness and the “celebration of Earth Day, everyday” is a simple concept. It involves little steps and incorporating as many, or as few into your life as your wish. Some methods of conservation and environmental preservation include, a full list can be found here:
- Clean or replace air filters on your air conditioning unit at least once a month.
- Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120.
- Turn off unneeded lights even when leaving a room for a short time.
- Clean the lint filter in your dryer after every load so that it uses less energy.
- Purchase appliances and office equipment with the Energy Star Label; old refrigerators, for example, use up to 50 more electricity than newer models.
- Keep your thermostat at 68 in winter and 78 in summer.
- Shut off electrical equipment in the evening when you leave work.
- Shade outside air conditioning units by trees or other means.
- Replace old windows with energy efficient ones.
- Use cold water instead of warm or hot water when possible.
- Check labels of household cleaners you use. Consider alternatives like baking soda, scouring pads, water or a little more elbow grease.
- Use an electric lawn- mower instead of a gas-powered one.
- Minimize pesticide use.
- Put leaves in a compost heap instead of burning them or throwing them away. Yard debris too large for your compost bin should be taken to a yard-debris recycler.
- Join a carpool or vanpool to get to work.
- Walk or ride your bike instead of driving, whenever possible.
- Use discarded paper for scrap paper.
- Wash and dry only full loads of laundry and dishes.
- Install water-saving devices on your faucets and toilets.
- Install a low-flow shower head.
- Check your car for oil or other leaks, and recycle motor oil.
- Take your car to a car wash instead of washing it in the driveway.
- Avoid products with several layers of packaging when only one is sufficient. About 33% of what we throw away is packaging.
- Reuse items like bags and containers when possible.
- Use reusable plates and utensils instead of disposable ones.
- Use reusable containers to store food instead of aluminum foil and cling wrap.
- Buy rechargeable batteries for devices used frequently.