Friday, June 29, 2007


Green issues have been on my mind quite a bit over the last couple of weeks. I’ve touched on the environment in a few posts in the past and it is an issue that I am constantly aware of and have been making a real effort to pay more attention to over the last few years. And yes, I could say that I am not doing enough (is anyone?), but I am doing something and that’s what counts.

A few things in this vein caught my attention this week, one an advert in China, one a piece of research Neil Perkin spoke about on his blog
Only Dead Fish, and one a piece of commentary at the FAIR* blog on the Anya Hindmarch ‘I’m not a Plastic Bag’ that I blogged about back in April. Each threw up different issues that have made me think a lot this week.

The advert in China was an outdoor campaign with a difference that I found on
Houtlust. The campaign won bronze at the Cannes Lions in the outdoor category this year, very well deserved in my opinion. The picture below is the final part of the execution, you’ll find the rest here. From the agency Ogilvy and Mather Beijing for WWF, the campaign was designed to highlight the huge growth in the number of cars and exhaust emissions in China, the copy on the balloon read ‘Drive one day less and look how much carbon monoxide you’ll keep out of the air we breathe.’ Although aimed at the Chinese, it received coverage not only in the media there but also in Germany and the Middle East. I would imagine not least because it’s a poignant message not just for those in China but all over the world. I wonder if it would have attracted quite so much attention had it been staged somewhere in the Western world however. I suspect not, and when I read the post on Only Dead Fish, it backed up exactly why I think this.

When it comes to environmental issues in this country, there’s no doubt that many have begun to pay a lot more attention to it, many have made an effort to change their environmentally unfriendly habits and many companies have also begun to implement changes to their practices that will have a more positive impact on the planet. But, many people still don’t care. They don’t think that it’s their responsibility to do anything. Many are ignorant of the impact their actions have, ok, but many use the excuse that larger countries such as China and the USA are polluting the environment to such a huge extent there is no point doing the little things as an individual. The 'Green Matters' research conducted by Neil Perkins and co found that although 95% of people thought that the environment was ‘everyone’s responsibility’, only 40% thought it was ‘mine.’ So, how to change this mindset? What can companies do? The three things the research threw up for brands to do to make the issues important and real to people at a personal level were to: make it real, relevant to their own lives; make it easy to be green; and make it inclusive, let them know they are not the only ones doing their bit for the environment. Sounds simple enough, but how many companies do actually make a real issue out of the environment and how easy is it really for the individual to be green? Which leads on nicely to the third thing that caught my attention this week…

When the Anya Hindmarch ‘I’m Not a Plastic Bag’ was launched, it was positioned as a stylish alternative to plastic bags. For those lucky enough to get their hands on the extremely limited number, I’m sure there were at least a few among them who were buying the bag as much for the environmental kudos as the fashion kudos. But (and at the point I wrote the last post on this subject, I was not aware of the fact), the bag itself is not actually made of recycled materials. Therefore it only actually becomes environmentally friendly if it is re-used (which is the intention of the bag we are told). Taking into account the amount of people who bought the bag only to resell it on e-bay though, the carbon footprint caused by the resale contradicts much of the ‘good’ the sellers were trying to do. And now the same is set to happen in the U.S. Why am I dredging up this old issue? Well, if those behind the release of the bag had actually wanted to make it easy for consumers to be ethical and re-use one ‘fashionable’ bag instead of taking plastic bag after plastic bag for their shopping, they would have made the bag widely available. Thus, they would have made it easy for consumers to do this. Instead, an opportunity was wasted and a greater impact was made in the fashion world than the environmental one. A shame really.

I feel this post has been a bit of a raggle-taggle today of things that have been catching my attention, so I’ll apologise for it’s lack of cohesion. With the recent flash floods occurring throughout the country over the last few weeks though, these posts only served to reinforce the urgency, in my mind, of making real changes to our lifestyles to slow down the effects on global warming. I wouldn’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do care and I do try. That’s a start.

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