Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Bright green, what is it?

It's no longer adequate to talk about green consumers or green products when talking about sustainability. The green movement is too complex to use just a single term; now we need to talk about what shade of green.

Are your customers or supporters bright green? Dark green? Light green? Or perhaps gray? How would you know, and what can the shade tell you about what they want.

Here's a key to the new shades of green that people are talking about, thanks to WorldChanging.com.

...bright green environmentalism is a belief that sustainable innovation is the best path to lasting prosperity, and that any vision of sustainability which does not offer prosperity and well-being will not succeed. In short, it's the belief that for the future to be green, it must also be bright. Bright green environmentalism is a call to use innovation, design, urban revitalization and entrepreneurial zeal to transform the systems that support our lives.

Light green environmentalists tend to emphasize lifestyle/behavioral/consumer change as key to sustainability, or at least as the best mechanism for triggering broader changes. Light greens strongly advocate change at the individual level. The thinking is that if you can get people to take small, pleasant steps (by shopping differently, or making changes around the home), they will not only make changes that can begin to make a difference in aggregate, but also begin to clamor for larger transformations. Light green environmentalism, as a call for individuals to change, has helped spread the idea that concern for sustainability is cool.

Dark greens, in contrast, tend to emphasize the need to pull back from consumerism (sometimes even from industrialization itself) and emphasize local solutions, short supply chains and direct connection to the land. They strongly advocate change at the community level. In its best incarnations, dark green thinking offers a lot of insight about bioregionalism, reinhabitation, and taking direct control over one's life and surroundings.

Grays, of course, are those who deny there's a need to do anything at all, whether as individuals or as a society.

Now that you know the language, spend some time thinking about which shade of green you are, and also your customers or supporters. Do the terms help you figure out how to focus your efforts?