To green or not to green…

To green or not to green…

Well. Hmm.
Icebreaker, my company, makes genuine efforts to be eco-friendly. CEO Jeremy Moon bought all of us a copy of “ecologically intelligent design” manifesto Cradle to Cradle last year. Last week one of the co-authors of that book, Michael Braungart, came in and gave a brief presentation to us on his work, research, and environmental philosophies.

Braungart’s beliefs are pretty great. He tried to convey to us the idea that being environmentally LESS BAD is not the same as being environmentally GOOD.

In other words, one shouldn’t plan a corporate strategy around minimization of waste (less pollution, less C02, less waste products)… but should instead plan for a MAXimization of the product’s lifecycle and reusability. Essentially, Braungart advocated making products which are DESIGNED to be cleanly, safely, and efficiently turned into other products after they’ve been worn out.

Braungart also rejected the ways that companies (and people) try to present themselves and environmentally friendly, without doing much at all. He was very anti-green lingo, especially in sales… things like “70% post-consumer-waste! Carbon-neutral! Sustainable!”

In his words… “Would you want a sustainable marriage? Or sustainable sex?? ‘Sustainable’ is not a good goal!”

So, pretty interesting. But also, pretty hard theory to live up to.

Above is a sketch I did for a “Give Green” icon that was to be featured on Icebreaker’s holiday gift advertising. (based my boss’ concept)
This was a project that was in the works before the Braungart talk, and afterwards… we were smart enough to realize that we were committing, in Michael Braungart’s book (ha), a cardinal sin… promoting a product with vague, eco-friendly phrases without really doing anything positive, innovative, or creative for the environment.

Did that bother me? Yes, a bit. But mostly I just wanted to see my icon made into a reality. The human ego trumps all.
(The icon got axed, which is for the best, I suppose-)

Also on the subject of “Is that Green, or is that PR?”… Icebreaker’s official employee email signature is supposed to carry the line “Please consider the environment before printing this email.” My opposition to this statement is pretty well summed up here.

I imagine that the piqued, “Are you kidding me?!” feeling I get when receiving an email with this in the signature must be akin to the feeling Michael Braungart gets, when he sees all these companies scurrying around, trying to give their customers the sense that they’re doing something good for the environment… without doing anything of actual consequence.

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