Green on a sugar high
December 30 2007 | Jim's Blog,
Ok, I'll stop with the trying-hard-to-be-clever green-isms... we're all tired of them. It's that post-sugar high kicking in.
At the beginning stages of a movement the general population seems to be out of synch with each other, sometimes comically so. We see this when we look in the rearview mirror at historical, culturally-accepted norms that have since changed by movements; watch Bing Crosby's famed Holiday Inn and see him and Fred Astair doing a blackface routine (1942), think back to 1920 and understand that women couldn't vote, think back to the 70s... Iron Eyes Cody and the Keep America Beautiful commercial. It feels hard to believe that our parents or grandparents lived through those. Going back further, the very idea that slavery existed seems almost hard to grasp. When we read about these it feels like we are watching dramas... but not dramas based our history; not a history that OUR great-grandparents were part of. Of course WE would never have succomb to such poor decisions, bad taste, mob rule and lack of human valuation.
There are early adopters with a movement, sometimes a cooling off period and then things kick into a growing mainstream movement. We went through a mini-version of this with the early days of the Internet; a small subset of culture lived in a "future state of what could be". Geoffry Moore captured this in the book Crossing the Chasm, the graphic summarizes this concept.
That same process is happening right now in the environmental movement.
But let's be clear, green isn't the new black.
In fact, it should never be the new black.
Green is not simply a seasonal fashion choice. It's something more like an operating system change out. It's more like getting a set of glasses for the first time. Green is understanding that our current lifestyle cannot continue on. It's not a few people operating in a bubble; this is rather a planetary paradigm shift. Two days ago China announced they want the majority of their (rather large) population to be middle-class within a decade. That's going to chew up a whole lot of natural resources...resources of which America has been the main glutton until now. Of course India has been sprinting toward the mainstream "American Dream" of middle class prizes for a few decades. These kinds of shifts are forcing our collective hand... they are forcing everyone to face the same facts.
The globe and it's resources are finite.
The ocean does not hold an infinte number of Chilean Sea Bass, as we've found out.
There are a countable number of trees in the Amazon. Etc.
Increasingly I'm attempting to see green differently. I'm trying to see green as my kids will see it... the same way I see Bing doing blackface. Our kids are going to look back at us and wonder why we waited so darn long to make changes.
Green is a new set of lenses.
Sure, there is a fashion element to it... there are bound to be fashionistas who jump on and sell uber-trendy $1,700 eco-shopping bags to put groceries in. In a way this is a great thing; it's an illustration that the movement is catching on in various user groups.
But green cannot be simply buying organic cotton $300 jeans. It needs to start being a mindset that makes us question if we really need to buy anything new at all. There has to be a gut-check on where we are and what we're leaving to the generations after us. There are so many reasons why this must be the case, here are five.
1. Our linear model of extraction-creation-disposal doesn't scale indefinitely
2. China and India (and rest of world) are coming online
3. Oceans are redlining; entire fisheries are collapsing
4. Our hubris continues to push the boundaries
5. Single-use plastics are stupidly out of control
Green must be a new way of thinking and not a new hoody. Green must be larger than land It must tell the rest of the story... the blue.
Don't believe the hype.
It's 2008. Change out your Operating System, embrace a new set of lenses...