Posts Tagged ‘recycling’

Reading ‘That buzz in your ear may be green noise‘, yesterday’s article in the New York Times, I had a feeling of deja vu. The issue of green cacophony and the resulting confusion in people’s minds, is one that has been covered many times before in this blog. Rather than repeating myself, I thought I would just retrieve all my previous posts on the topic:

The fatigue factor and what it means for the climate fight’

Is it green of not?

Green fatigue

Green overload

It‘s getting to me


The failure of the green media to communicate simply

Top three green actions to reduce your ecological footprint

Seven green marketing strategies to persuade Americans to go green

Since December, the date of my last post, things have only gotten worse. People are more aware. They are also more confused, and suspicious about all green matters. What should be simple, has now reached levels of unparalleled complexity.

I think it’s time we go back to the old and proven adage: Reduce-Reuse-Recycle. Not sexy, with maybe too much of a treehugger flavor, but in the end, still the best planet saving tip.

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As of late, Gallup has been a great source of important climate related behavioral data. Here is the third survey in the series, this time taking a look at differences between top polluting nations:

These are global numbers. Equally relevant are per capita footprints – latest, 2006 data from Footprint Network:

United States 9.6

China 1.6 (and growing quickly)

Russia 4.4

Japan 4.4

India 0.8 (also growing)

Japan and the US have done a good job at educating the public. China, and even more so India have done a poor job. In both of these countries, one should consider helping with educational efforts, particularly as consumption, and the risk of associated environmental damage, are growing exponentially.

Differences in education, infrastructure, access to resources such as water, and wealth, have a direct impact on citizens’ behavior:

My main take away: people are a product of their environment. Change the environment, and you will get different behaviors. Make it hard for people to access resources as in India with water for instance, and they will use less. Give them the right infrastructure, as in recycling in Japan or the US, and they will follow.

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Another recent Gallup survey completes and confirms what we already know from the other Gallup survey and other research.

  • There is a core group of people, about 30% who are deeply committed to making environmental changes. As Kyle emphasized in one of his earlier comments here, these are the people we need to work with. They can be evangelists for sustainable living.

  • The environment is a significant concern, but one that comes behind more personal and immediate concerns such as the economy, health care, energy, crime, social security, and drug use. One could say that energy concerns are directly related to the environment, and that from a systemic point of view, other issues are connected as well:

  • Recycling comes out on top, again. Probably the only green habit that is supported with widespread infrastructure and easy, no cost solutions. Let us take note and imagine how the same can be done in the other areas.

  • Last, this particular survey gets into demographics, and confirms prior research. Women are leading the way of the green revolution, and so are the people with more democrat leanings. Mary and Diane, the women part should please you!

I don’t know about you, but this leaves me with a sense of increased clarity, and hope for what can and needs to be done next.

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More details came out on the recent Nielsen Online report on, Sustainability through the Eyes and Megaphones of the Blogosphere, leading to some important conclusions about the state of the conversations amongst consumers regarding all green things:

#1 The buzz around sustainability continues to increase -50% in 2007.

#2 The kind of topics bloggers are interested in, is shifting away from global environmental wellness to personal health and practical solutions:

#3 The top greenwashing sins from consumers’ perspective show a concern for consistency, authenticity, and transparency from companies:

This may give us some clues as to the media’s seeming lack of sustained interest in global warming and other global environmental issues. It may be that the conversation is continuing, but under a different form. People like to talk about tangible things, that they have a power on.

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Do you want people to find you in the green blogosphere? Here, for you, is a list I compiled of the top 100 green related keywords in online searches, using Wordtracker, a new awesome website:

  1. global warming
  2. water
  3. earth
  4. nature
  5. solar energy
  6. polar bears
  7. recycling
  8. pollution
  9. green
  10. solar power
  11. endangered species
  12. air pollution
  13. water pollution
  14. solar panels
  15. electric cars
  16. wind energy
  17. climate change
  18. tankless water heater
  19. wind power
  20. recycle
  21. geothermal energy
  22. hybrid cars
  23. waste management
  24. deforestation
  25. tankless water heaters
  26. al gore
  27. planet earth
  28. epa
  29. greenhouse effect
  30. environment
  31. effects of global warming
  32. planet
  33. solar
  34. science news
  35. fossil fuels
  36. oil prices
  37. cause of global warming
  38. wildlife
  39. natural resources
  40. sustainability
  41. solar cells
  42. alternative energy
  43. water heaters
  44. green guy
  45. mother earth news
  46. solar panel
  47. earth day
  48. bottled water
  49. climate map
  50. carbon dioxide
  51. climate graphs
  52. human nature
  53. what is global warming
  54. water conservation
  55. thermal energy
  56. free energy
  57. ocean pollution
  58. renewable energy
  59. endangered species list
  60. price of oil
  61. ecology
  62. popular science
  63. organic
  64. peak oil
  65. going green
  66. fuel cells
  67. kyoto protocol
  68. causes of global warming
  69. electronic waste
  70. solar powered cars
  71. land pollution
  72. composting
  73. energy star
  74. an inconvenient truth
  75. department of energy
  76. hybrid vehicles
  77. environmental issues
  78. solar water heater
  79. recycling facts
  80. greenhouse gases
  81. global warming facts
  82. compost
  83. organic food
  84. green building
  85. consequences of global warming
  86. science magazine
  87. solar cell
  88. mother earth
  89. go green
  90. genetically modified food
  91. solar dryer
  92. earth science dictionary
  93. national wildlife federation
  94. earth science
  95. noise pollution
  96. carbon footprint
  97. energy conservation
  98. hybrid car
  99. conservation
  100. photovoltaic

It is always interesting to confront one’s idea of most popular keywords, with the reality from web analytics . . .

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The following 2007 Environmental Survey was commissioned by Professor Jon Rosnick, from Stanford University Woods Institute for the Environment. ABC News and the Washington Post were cosponsors. Here is what it said about the state of Americans’ minds towards global warming:

1) Americans on the whole, believe in the severity of global warming, and the need to do something about it; only half of them however feel it is personally important:

  • Global warming is the world’s biggest environmental problem – 33%
  • Global warming is caused mostly by human activigy – 41%
  • Global warming is important to them personally – 52%
  • Know a good deal about global warming – 62%
  • Believe it is happening – 84%
  • Believe it will be a serious problem if left uncorrected – 86%
  • Think it indeed can be reduced – 63%
  • Federal government should do more to address – 70%

2) There is a declared willingness to make changes in order to help with the problem:

  • Are willing to make changes in their lives in order to help environment generally – 94%
  • Say so even if it means some personal inconvenience – 80%
  • Are already making efforts to reduce energy consumption in their homes – 73%
  • Are willing to make changes to benefit the environment – 50%
  • Are very willing if it means personal inconvenience – 45%
  • Are doing a great deal to reduce their energy consumption – 31%

3) Intent translates into behavior only in selective areas:

  • Make efforts in terms of Heat/AC – 26%; would be willing to make efforts it it helped the environment
  • Favor law in favor of recyclable grocery bags – 82%
  • Recycle even if not mandatory – 75%
  • Have low-flow showerhead or low-volume toilet – 69%
  • Use at least some CFL bulbs – 70%; support laws requiring CFLs – 56%
  • Had their tire pressure checked within last month – 68%
  • Oppose taxes on electricity use – 79%
  • Oppose taxes on gasoline – 67%

4) Younger, female population are more positively predisposed towards making behavioral changes:

  • Adults younger than 40 are more aware than older adults, 65% vs. 52% think global warming will be a serious problem if left unchecked, 70% vs. 58% think it can be addressed.
  • Women are more willing to change their behaviors than men – 10 points difference.

What is remarkable is the consistency of the results between the various studies.

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Thanks to Craig Nelson, over at World Changing for alerting me to the latest GFK Roper Poll on Americans’ Green or Environmentally Responsible New Year’s Resolutions for 2008:

  1. 49% of all American adults say they will make a green New Year’s resolution this year.
  2. Reducing household energy usage was cited as the most likely to be undertaken in 2008, cited by 75% of respondents.
  3. It was followed by recycling more (74%).
  4. And reducing the use of harmful household chemicals (66%).
  5. Carrying fabric bags to the supermarket (42%) and reducing one’s “carbon footprint” (43%) were the least frequently cited.
  6. The survey found that, in general, the more involved or personally demanding an environmental responsibility, the lower the response.
  7. 9 in 10 Americans say it’s important to take actions in their personal lives (recycling, giving blood, conserving energy, etc.) to address social issues, but not nearly as many are actually doing so. We want to help, but between family and work, we’re stretched thin. The easier we can make it for individuals to act on their good intentions, the better. There’s a lesson in that for businesses looking to leverage the growing green sensibility.
  8. 58% of Americans 18 to 24 said they would make a green New Year’s resolution for 2008. That compares with 50% of Americans 50 to 64 and 40% of Americans 65+.
  9. 31% admitted to feeling guilty in recent years about not living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Women (36%) are more likely than men (26%) to feel “green guilt.

This is very interesting, and has obvious implications for the green marketer:

  1. Target women
  2. Go for the younger crowd
  3. Make it easier on people
  4. Hot areas: lower energy use, recycling, natural products that are free of harmful chemicals.

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The results of AOL Hot Searches for 2007 just came out. And with it, the surprise of global warming making it to the top 10 list of most searched news items:

  1. Chris Benoit (wrestling)
  2. Phentermine (weight loss)
  3. Pet food recall (pets)
  4. Global warming
  5. Virginia Tech
  6. Iraq
  7. Juanita Bynum
  8. Iran
  9. Immigration
  10. Don Imus

That’s progress, compared to the 2006 list:

  1. Gas prices
  2. Steve Irwin
  3. Immigration
  4. Bird flu
  5. Iraq
  6. Natalee Holloway
  7. Debra Lafave
  8. Rush Limbaugh
  9. Lebanon
  10. Hurricane Katrina

For a more accurate picture, one needs to also look at the two leading search engines, Google (54%) and Yahoo (23%).

According to Google Zeitgeist for 2007, Google News Most Popular Searches worldwide are:

  1. American Idol
  2. Youtube
  3. Britney Spears
  4. 2007 Cricket World Cup
  5. Chris Benoit
  6. iPhone
  7. Anna Nicole Smith
  8. Paris Hilton
  9. Iran
  10. Vanessa Hudgens

The world cares most about celebrities, sports, gadgets and politics, not global warming. That’s the truth. This is confirmed by Yahoo list of 2007 Top 10 Queries:

  1. Britney Spears
  2. WWE
  3. Paris Hilton
  4. Naruto
  5. Beyonce
  6. Lindsay Lohan
  7. Rune Scape
  8. Fantasy Football
  9. Fergie
  10. Jessica Alba

The young set – kids 7-12 – gives us some reasons to hope, however, as evidenced by the Top 10 Searches on Yahoo! Kids:

  1. Games
  2. Animals
  3. Dinosaurs
  4. Math
  5. Hannah Montana
  6. Solar System
  7. George Washington
  8. Halloween
  9. Sally Ride
  10. Global Warming

Yahoo also compiled a list of Yahoo 2007 Top 10 Environmental Searches:

  1. Recycling
  2. Global Warming
  3. Freecycle
  4. Earth
  5. Pollution
  6. Al Gore
  7. Environmental Protection Agency
  8. Live Earth
  9. Hybrid Cars
  10. Solar Energy

Recycling leads the top of the list, not just as a generic segment in the Environment category, but also with Freecycle, the only green venture to make it in list. Recycling is one green behavior people are interested in, thanks to years of public education. Think Reduce-Reuse-Recycle.

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Interpreted from the Green Gauge Report, here are the four main factors that influence Americans’ (not so) green behaviors:

1) Lack of actionable information, with half of consumers who claim they,

  • do not have the information to be personally involved in increasing their green behavior
  • aren’t sure which products and packaging materials are recyclable
  • would do more for the environment if they only knew how
  • they have questions about the true impact of green products

2) Lack of convenient solutions to accommodate people’s increasingly busy lifestyles, with half admitting they know they should make the green lifestyle changes but are too busy

3) Cost of green products compared to traditional alternatives

4) Need to protect personal/family health is cited by an equal number of consumers (52%) as looking to personally protect the environment, as reason why they seek environmental information.

Sounds fair enough!

Lots of blame has been placed on the American consumer for resisting the green wave. Maybe policy makers, influencers, and green marketers ought to show some more empathy towards themselves and others, and make sure they deliver on the following seven green marketing promises:

  1. Clear, simple ‘how to’ green messages, asking people to do one thing at a time
  2. Information support structures to help people navigate the green landscape, truly designed to make their lives easier, not burden them with more
  3. More visible and clear recycling directions on product packaging
  4. Trusted sustainability standards for all products
  5. Provide green solutions that are at least as easy and convenient as traditional products and services
  6. Lower costs so that cost does not become a barrier to adoption, including creative financing solutions for higher ticket items, eg, community purchase plans
  7. Whenever possible tie in personal/family health into the environmental equation.

I would like to end by commenting on my use of the word marketing. I have noticed ‘marketing’ is getting a bad rap in some of the more pure green circles. That is unfortunate. Marketing, like any powerful tools, can be used for either positive, or negative means. According to the American Marketing Association,

Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.

The larger organization at stake is the world, and its stakeholders are all the people on the planet. The value to be created is a sustainable, healthier, greener world.

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Day 19 of Daily Footprint Project. The paper recycling basket keeps filling up.

All That Paper’s Got to Go

The newspapers, I take responsibility for. Reading the papers in the morning gives me great pleasure, and I am not ready to let that indulgence go. At least, not yet. What troubles me is all the junk mail. Several times, I have discussed with Prad, my intention of registering with Green Dimes. Prad thinks the city already has a similar program, and why pay the $15 to Green Dimes? Well, I went on the city’s website and they do not have such a thing. Still, Prad thinks I have not gone far enough in my investigation. I should be calling and talk to a live body.

The result is, my resolve has waned, and I have given up on the whole junk mail bit. This morning, though, the basket came back into my field of consciousness. Flouting me with its pile of useless junk mail, that serves no purpose at all other than being a source of disagreement between me and husband. Shall I dare Prad and go ahead, pay the $15 to Green Dimes?

Daily Footprint Project
Daily Log
Day #19


flush toilet 2
wash face 2
brush teeth 2
wash hands 5
shower 1
rinse dishes
wash vegetables


electric toothbrush 2
microwave tea 2’
microwave oatmeal 4’
microwave milk 2’
laptop on half day
stir fry zucchinis
stir fry fish


oatmeal with organic milk
organic oranges
organic milk
organic chocolate
organic raspberries
Starbucks fruit and cheese platter for Little Sister
Whole Foods takeout mashed potatoes for Little Sister
lunch out at restaurant with Little Sister
fried organic zucchinis
fried wild fish with mushrooms


toilet paper
raspberries plastic box
3 newspaper plastic wrappers


gave old clothes to Little Sister’s family
2 papers
junk mail


drive Little Sister to Turkey Trot 12 miles (stop at Starbucks on the way)
drive to restaurant 4 miles (stop at Whole Foods on the way)

Non food shopping


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