The on-line magazine, GreenBiz.com, carried an article recently by editor Joel Makower alleging that green marketing by companies is, in effect, dead, and two rebuttals from the heads of firms that specialize in motivating consumers to make more beneficial choices. I won’t bother going into their main arguments here because the point I’d like to emphasize is that in order for consumers to make environmentally conscious and informed purchasing decisions, they first need to be enlightened in regard to the impact of their actions on both their own health and that of the planet. Once that happens, they will be in a much better position to judge which companies and products can boast of having genuinely environmentally friendly credentials and which are merely making empty claims.
Consumers who have read our “Chemical-Free Kids” books or subscribe to the Web site (to give just one example) will come to their local supermarket already armed with knowledge of, say, the benefits of organic products, or of which companies are still using harmful ingredients, such as high fructose corn syrup and trans fats, as well as ingredients that are bioengineered and pose an additional threat to both the environment and human health. These consumers don’t need to rely on manufacturers’ assurances that their products are “natural” or “healthy” — they can pretty well tell by reading the fine print on the label.
People who have likewise been educated – through blogs, news and social media and even by celebrities — to understand how everyday decisions they make can either help preserve or help destroy the ecosystem can usually be depended on to “do the right thing” – whether it’s not eating a variety of fish that’s in danger of extinction or not disposing of a plastic bottle in an irresponsible manner that will ultimately make it part of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” And if they still insist on smoking (a powerful addiction that education alone won’t necessarily cause them to curtail), at least they won’t add their butts to those already poisoning fish in the ocean. They’ll do it if for no other reason than the fact it makes them feel good about themselves.
A little knowledge, as the saying goes, is a dangerous thing – but only to those companies that are trying to take advantage of our ignorance. And when enough consumers become sufficiently knowledgeable -–such as happened in Europe with the public’s rejection of genetically modified ingredients – more and more companies will follow their lead and be counted on to act in an environmentally responsible manner as well.