…the shift looks somewhat like this: we’ve gone from Eco-Ugly (ugly, over-priced, low-performance, unsavory yet eco-friendly versions of the ‘real thing’) to Eco-Chic (eco-friendly stuff that actually looks as nice and cool as the less sustainable originals) to now Eco-Iconic: “Eco-friendly goods and services sporting bold, iconic markers and design, helping their eco-conscious owners show off their eco-credentials to their peers.”
Here’s an example,; Top reasons people bought a Prius:
In other words, marketing dictates success will go to those who now look green. Consider:
To create eco-icons, creating a eco-friendly version of an existing product and sticking a ‘hybrid’ or green label on it may work in some cases, but will most likely prove problematic, as it will either be (literally) invisible, or will still be associated with the polluting version.
This is not to be confused with green-washing. They mean that while a product may be eco, it also has to look it too. A good example is the Golf TDI. Looking generally staid and boring (the same body as the more polluting model), it gets better mileage than the much lauded Prius, is much punchier (it can sprint!) than the Prius and the TDI costs less too. Eric regularly gets 50 mpg or more in his but the car has none of the cachet of the Prius. Prius sales are increasing because people want others to know they’re driving a hybrid. This is the heart of the eco-ICONic trend. Looks. Again it would seem that more people care about their image so if you can appeal to their vanity, they’ll buy.
On a related note, Yahoo posts an article saying in part, that EcoGeeks get the girls:
Just in case you needed another reason to care about the environment: It turns out girls dig guys who dig environmental technology. According to a study conducted by GM as part of this year’s Challenge X competition:
- Nearly 9 in 10 women (88 percent) say they’d rather chat up someone who owns the latest fuel-efficient car versus the latest sports car.
- Eighty percent of American car buyers would find someone with the latest fuel-efficient car more interesting to talk to at a party than someone with the latest sports car.
- More than 4 out of 10 (45 percent) 18- to 43-year-olds say it’s a fashion faux pas nowadays to have a car that’s not green or environmentally friendly.
There’s more from EcoGeek on whether it makes sense to sell your old car to buy a hybrid.
Another reported product doing well is the solar powered lap top bag produced by several companies, ranging in price from $274-$412. I guess that’s one way to signal you have money to spend. You lose the eco-cool factor blowing it on an expensive handbag. Solar cells on the bag’s exterior store energy to power your lap top. I guess it depends on where you live as to whether it’d make sense for you to have one. Around here, putting your laptop in a bag in the sun would melt it.
Another interesting trend from Trendwatching is Eco-Embedding. This is described as mostly increasing government and policy intervention in product and process sustainability. While I don’t completely disagree with the intent of policy (exception: diesels are banned in CA meaning you can’t buy the aforementioned TDI Golf there) I would disagree with Trendwatching’s assertion that consumers won’t notice it; sustainability becoming seamless. In the short term, pending generational and demographic shifts, I think it’s more of an issue that the choice will be removed from a consumer’s repertoire of options (not always a bad thing). A clear example is plastic bags:
- 500 billion plastic bags are sold every year
- Almost 80% of plastic bag use is by consumers in North America and western Europe
- 88.5 billion plastic bags were used in the US in 2006
- 1,460 plastic bags are used in a year by an average family of four in the US
- Less than 1% of all plastic bags are recycled in the US
- It takes 1,000 years for plastic bags to degrade
The fact is, most people won’t bring their own reusable bags to the store and likely never will even if they’re charged extra for disposables. Eco-embedding means removing choice by banning the bags outright as San Francisco has done with other municipalities following suit. Another example is a recent policy enacted in New York City. In just four years, the entire taxicab fleet in the city will be hybrid vehicles, reducing emissions by 50% over the next decade.
One last example I’m not entirely sold on is this:
The incandescent light bulb will be phased out of the U.S. market beginning in 2012. Under the measure, all light bulbs must use 25% to 30% less energy than today’s products by 2012 to 2014. Earlier, Australia and Italy became the first countries to announce an outright ban by 2010 on incandescent bulbs.
As BadmomGoodmom mentioned previously, incandescents still have uses, such as in closets. It takes too long for the CFLs to warm up, longer than one would have need to be poking about in a small closet which uses more energy -aside from inconvenience. Considering the cost of closet CFLs and expected usage, one will never recoup the cost (in energy savings) of having purchased them. As it happens, not all incandescents will be banned in the US. Those using fewer than 40 watts or more than 150 watts will be exempt. Still, I can see a big market for higher wattage CFLs, often used in warehouses and the like but I can’t imagine what they’d cost. I had some 400 watt incandescent bulbs in the Brewhouse and those cost over $20 apiece.
At the close of the article, Trendwatching mentions Eco-Boosting, a sort of one-upmanship among producers meaning it’s no longer sufficient to clean up your own mess, you score points by cleaning up someone else’s. Examples would be DEs who recycle materials to create new ones (whilst negating their own waste process too). Mentioned is a new search engine, ecocho from the UK. For every 1,000 searches made on the site, they plant two trees. Thus far they’ve planted over 5,000 trees, offsetting over two million kilos of CO2. Imagine if Google did that. They’d have to buy land to plant forests every month.