OPINION – “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou
“Green & Sexy”? Sounds like the two words are polar opposites. I use the tagline “Green & Sexy” on my radio show. Although more and more people are being enlightened on green, the image a lot of people have is that of a thin, pale vegetarian with a pissed-off facial expression in Birkenstocks hugging a tree. On my weekly radio show, I try to change the pre-conceived notion of “green”.
Although I am not a vegetarian, all the animal I eat are vegetarians, so I am a vegetarian once removed. I want the beef; pork; poultry; lamb; fish that I consume to be free of toxins. I don’t want pharmaceuticals in my food either. I will get my medication from Rite Aid, not my beef! I believe that we need to: address Climate Change; use alternative and renewable energy sources; do more reuse, reduce and recycle when it comes to avoiding the use of landfills.
It is “sexy” to be “green” !
Before you jump to conclusions, by sexy I mean:
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Beer commercials use “sexy” innuendos all the time. They would have you believe that by consuming their products, you become the life of the party – or the most interesting man in the world – or you get to keep your man card. When in actuality what you can get is: a hangover; beer gut; arrested for drunk driving if you consume too much.
Women are not immune either. By using certain beauty products they infer that you will look like Beyonce; become the next Elizabeth Taylor; or oiled well-muscled men will carry you to and fro. When in actuality, women’s beauty products are the most toxic consumer products.
Car insurance commercials make you laugh; mesmerize you with a deep baritone voice; amuse you with a lizard with an authoritative accent or compare themselves to being a good neighbor all the way to you signing the dotted line. While the reality is that they are betting you a large sum of money that you won’t get in a serious accident and you are holding the line by betting a small monthly fee that you will.
Everyone loves and desires that new car smell. In reality that scent is the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the degassing of the insulation and carpeting in the new car.
On the surface being energy efficient; driving a hybrid car; recycling; composting and lowering your carbon footprint are not “sexy” to most. In fact there is a perception that being green is more costly; time consuming and boring. In reality the opposite is true. However, people’s perception is their reality and the more data you present that challenges their beliefs the more entrenched they become in them.
Two of the six emotional needs of humans (another story for another time) are significance and connection. Law 13 of the 48 Laws of Power by author Robert Greene states “When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to their Mercy or Gratitude”.
To get the mainstream engaged in the Green Economy, we have to move beyond the conversation of the polar bear on the shrinking ice float or the disappearing rainforest. People may care about those issues; however they do not care enough to make a fundamental change in their lifestyle.
The dialogue has to be on the order of “ hey if you go green, you would be: more attractive – or able find your niche in terms of a job; career or business – or able to save or make money – or (dare I say it?) be more sexy!”
During my foray in state government I have heard the term ‘sexy” applied to such mundane things as: policies; regulations and even the budget!!
Visualize getting the mainstream to go green to the Bell Curve. The 10-15 percent champions are out there and need no or very little motivation. You have the 10-15 percent naysayers who are negative and very loud. In the middle you have a large number who are waiting to be courted; cajoled and convinced. They are asking the basic question: WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) The naysayers are claiming going green is an economic and social Armageddon. The green champions are countering with the polar bear on the ice float; the disappearing rain forest; the endangered species? Is it any wonder green is losing ground? As humans we are either pain-directed or precept-oriented. Most of us will do more to avoid pain than to gain pleasure and the plight of the polar bears; rain forest and endangered species are not painful as unemployment; jobs leaving the state and country; the economy.
It is a known fact that women are greener than men. You want men to go green? Pose an attractive woman next to a hybrid car or recycled product. In a breathless voice have her profess that real men have “small” carbon footprints. Show that the Tesla electric car is a “chick” magnet.
For our female consumers, especially the bargain hunters, give better examples how living and buying green can save money. Reframe the green message that will make the mainstream (the large lump in the bell curve) feel “sexy” about being green. Call reusable products environmental heirlooms! Smile when you talk about being green. You cannot tell someone that you are earth-friendly with a snarl on your face.
Change the guilt trip strategy when trying to convince someone to be green if they don’t do something to a message of all the great things that will happen when you go green.
Making the green message sexy means to also make the message culturally and socially relevant. I find it interesting how particular groups always want to ban a particular product as an environmental protective measure for beaches and coastlines.
Not only is that practice not very effective, it put economic burden for the replacement products on the inner cities that can hardly afford it. What should be done is that the groups take a holistic and inclusive approach in their message to prevent littering.
Repeat after me “Green AND Sexy!”
The author Leonard Robinson, has over 35 years of experience in environmental management. He is a consultant; motivational free-lance writer; former Gubernatorial appointee and hosts a weekly radio show in Sacramento called “Green & Sexy”
By Leonard Robinson