By and large, I’m not a huge fan of Regretsy, which seems to take a little too much smug delight in making a name for itself by picking people out of obscurity for the exclusive purpose of slamming them — and then pretending that there is something brave and rebellious. Speaking truth to powerless? Whatever.
But, I’m nothing if not open-minded, so I think there’s something in this post that’s worth consideration. “Noncycling,” or whatever term you might prefer, is an issue I think all Unconsumption contributors confront every day as we prowl about the online world looking for the best material to share with you.
The fact is, I think we all see a lot of pretty suspect stuff — projects and objects that pose as eco-friendly creative reuse, but are kinda not exactly that creative, or reuseful.
Maybe Regretsy does us a favor with this terminology:
1. To take a piece of garbage and turn it into a different piece of garbage
2. To take an object that still has some useful purpose and turn it into a piece of garbage
“Mary stopped Jim from discarding the expired air-fresheners so she could noncycle them into an instant collection.”
“It’s basically about moving to a world where access triumphs over ownership, and that unused value — things sitting in my garage — equals waste,” says Lisa Gansky, who has written frequently on the topic and has listed 6,600 such sharing platforms on her site, Meshing.IT.
Not exactly a breaking story, but I liked this quote.
Does “green” need to be marketed in a more “macho” way?
Sounds a little nuts at first, but as this piece in the journal Solutions points out, the “Don’t Mess With Texas” anti-litter campaign was green, kinda macho, and very successful!
The article also cites a recent study that identifies some of the image problems that surround green/eco-friendly thinking and actions. Here’s how the article starts out (slightly edited and trimmed):
A recent OgilvyEarth study entitled, Mainstream Green: Moving Sustainability from Niche to Normal … investigated the discrepancy between Americans’ actions and intentions around sustainable living and shopping behaviors, otherwise known as the Green Gap. …
What sparked media buzz … was OgilvyEarth’s conclusion that [some] men are often self-conscious about using canvas shopping bags, drinking from reusable water bottles, or driving Prius hybrids. Put simply, men saw green as too feminine. Among surveyed respondents, 85 percent said that they saw women as more involved than men in the environmental movement, and 82 percent said that going green was definitely more feminine than masculine. …
OgilvyEarth’s gender gap findings aren’t surprising. Past academic studies and polls have long found that women tend to express greater environmental responsibility than men.2-4 Given that moms do most of the shopping, cooking, and maintaining of households—controlling 85 percent of household spending5—green marketers have instinctively crafted their advertising and products to appeal to women. This strategy may be holding back the embrace of green behaviors by men.
Lessons from the famously successful Don’t Mess with Texas campaign are instructive in how green can be made more macho through message framing that connects sustainability and masculine values.
Friend of Unconsumption David Bergman has launched a new blog:
Subtitled “Finding the Future We Want,” EcoOptimism seeks to show how we can come out the other side of our concurrent ECOlogical and ECOnomic crises (ECOoptimism, get it?) in a better place than we started; that not only will the planet be healthier, but we, as individuals, as families, as communities and as a species, can feel fulfilled and be more prosperous. It breaks the presumption, the false dichotomy, that environmentalism is at odds with our well-being and our happiness. It posits instead that we can eat our cake and have it, too.
EcoOptimism will attempt to cut through the negativism implied in so much of the environmental movement and explore the flip side – the opportunities that are presented by what appear to be constraints. The hope is that we’ll help enable a movement forward rather than backward, to a win-win solution in which both the environment and humanity are not only sustained, but can thrive.
The first post, appropriately enough, is titled: What is EcoOptimism?
So here’s a topic to mull over this weekend: new research on Zipcar drivers that questions whether users of that much-praised service are really motivated by the collaborative/sharing spirit … or something else.
“We really thought this would be very pro-social, pro-collaboration, pro-environment. We were starting with this theoretical baggage,” Bardhi says. And then she and Eckhardt conducted in-depth interviews with 40 Zipcar drivers in Boston. “And when we looked at the data, we were not finding any community,” she says. “People were very utilitarian, very individualistic.”
Some of these people were kind of jerks (our word, not Bardhi’s).
This Zipcar research suggests that what holds the whole thing together is self-interest, not community — and certainly not ideals about the environment, consumerism or sharing.
Granted, Bardhi and Eckhardt gathered their findings among young, urban professionals and students in Boston. And so maybe Zipcar drivers in Minnesota feel and behave differently (as might members of other “collaborative consumption” models like AirBnB). But by studying Zipcar’s target demographic, Bardhi and Eckhardt’s research offers a curious glimpse into the minds (and cars) of Millennials we may be misunderstanding.
Well! I guess my reaction to this is twofold. First, it sounds less than definitive.
But second: Maybe it’s valuable to bring this interpretation to the fore. Possibly it’s the case that beneficial/sharing/etc. services and alternatives need to appeal to self-interest in order to succeed.
I mean let’s be honest, self interest is a pretty major factor in human behavior. If a service figures out a way to channel it into a more good-for-society form, is that so bad?