Reading the recent Norwich Union study about eco-lies, made me question my own authenticity as a Green Girl Wannabe. Appearances can be deceiving, and a lot of the green credit I have been taking, should really be going to Green Guru. I married Green Guru a little less than two years ago. This life altering event introduced a green consciousness that was not there before. There is a difference between being conscious, and taking action, however. If I am honest with myself, I am still stuck in the role of passive thinker. Green Guru is the one doing ninety nine percent of the environmental work in our house. If it was not for Green Guru, I would still be living in my old house, with poor isolation, and sky rocketing energy bills. I would still be driving my old Subaru. I would still be a dilettante recycler. I would still run laundry loads like you would not believe. I would still go the plastic bag route at Whole Foods. I would shamelessly buy too much food and throw half of it away. I would keep using all my old light bulbs. I would still leave all the appliances plugged in 24/7. This is who I am, still, at the core.
This split between awareness and lack of corresponding actions, has become an obsession of mine. Back in the 80’s, the British introduced the account planning function in advertising, and revolutionized the way ads were conceived. The account planner’s job is to understand the consumer, at a much deeper level than can usually be achieved through traditional market research techniques. Account planning relies on a ladder technique of consumer insights. Part of the problem with the current climate crisis, is there has not been a convincing message to the majority, the people like me, that sells them effectively on a Green Earth proposition. The reason there has not been a convincing message, is the lack of a well conceived communication campaign. If Green Earth was a product, and I was the marketer in charge of selling it, I would have been fired from my job a long time ago. This is where account planning comes into play. There needs to be a better understanding of what makes people tick. Why have not they been buying the Green Earth product? Why are they resorting to their old ways still? What will convince them? These are the questions that need to be asked. These are the questions I ask of myself.
Awareness is not an issue. I am convinced of the problem. I know what to do pretty much. The first thought is, I feel detached. My life is pretty good as it is. If you are asking me to alter my life so drastically, I am not sure I can. One thing I could handle, but not so many, especially when I am not suffering right now. Old ways are working for me. They may not be working for the planet, but they are working for me. I do not have the will power to change on my own. It is too much work, too much effort, and I have enough on my plate already. I could follow regulations. But to initiate changes on my own, especially a whole bunch, that is just too much. I am getting irritated with all the green do gooders out there boasting about their green feats. Good for them. For me, it just makes me feel guilty and incompetent. So much stuff I have to do. I quit. You don’t understand all I have to deal with as it is. Don’t ask me for more. . .
Account Planner might stop me right there. And start making sense of my smorgasbord of thoughts. One insight that comes out, is my cry for help. I want to do good, but I just can’t, and I am asking for another solution. I don’t want to have to do so much work. Making significant lifestyle changes takes energy. This is not unlike people trying to quit smoking, or drinking, or to lose weight. This is why Weight Watchers, and twelve steps program are so popular. What’s called for here is a Green Earth Solution that does not put so much burden on the consumer, and shifts it instead to external structures. Big Brother needs to step in.
Marguerite Manteau-Rao is a blogger, social psychologist, and green girl wannabe. Since April 2007, she has chronicled her daily tribulations as a green girl wannabe in her blog: La Marguerite “My Inconvenient Truth: the Daily Sins of a Green Girl Wannabe” http://lamarguerite.wordpress.com
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