Can we afford sustainable living?
“Sustainable living” is a lifestyle that attempts to reduce the use of the earth’s natural resources – what we commonly refer to as “going green.” A recent study conducted by OgilvyEarth, a leading sustainability consultancy, found that 82% of Americans have good green intentions, but only 16% are dedicated to fulfilling these intentions. “One trip to the grocery store, and you would see that green products can have as much as a 100% price premium. It’s as if we’re penalizing virtuous behaviors with a defacto sustainability tax,” said Graceann Bennett, Director of Strategic Planning and co-author of the study at OgilvyEarth. The study revealed some interesting information about consumer behavior. It found that 82% of respondents said going green is “more feminine than masculine.” More men identified as Green Rejecters, and the ranks of the Super Greens were dominated by women. This feminization holds men back from visible green behavior, such as using reusable grocery bags or carrying around reusable water bottles. The study also indicated that half of Americans think the green and environmentally friendly products are marketed to “Crunchy Granola Hippies” or “Rich Elitist Snobs” rather than “Everyday Americans.” The key recommendations of the study pointed to major product distributors – get the cost of sustainable products down so that they are more competitive with “normal” products, and change the marketing of green products to target average consumers and men.
At my university, we recently held a conference where we rented water coolers and gave reusable water bottles to conference attendees. We incurred some added cost to label the reusable bottles with the University logo and title. We were able to negotiate favorable rental charges from the water cooler vendor because the vendor was able to market their service to attendees. We compared the cost of doing this to previous events where we provided bottled water. Not only did we exhibit more sustainable living behavior, to my surprise, we saved money in the process. I can’t tell you the number of conversations I have had about the topic of “going green” with our Sun City neighbors. Our friends have shared stories of how they conserve electricity by using the new low-energy light bulbs (and they last longer too). The counterpoint is that they cost more than traditional bulbs. Others conserve water by taking showers only once a week. (I think they were kidding!?). I would enjoy hearing from you. What are your thoughts on sustainable living?
Keep those letters coming, folks. Send your ideas to: The Frugal Forum, P.O. Box 693, Huntley, IL 60142 or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org