What realizes and promotes the fact that 85 cents of every dollar spent in the marketplace is spent by a woman and that big business responds faster to consumer demand than any other market force?
Grist, an environmental journalism site, has a compelling article on the book Big Green Purse and its author, Diane MacEachern, a longtime conservationist.
Just a few Q&As from the riveting interview:
There’s this notion out there that you can save the world by buying all this stuff — as long as it’s green.
In every single chapter, the very first suggestion is buy less, consume less, reduce — clearly we have to cut back on the total amount of stuff that’s being produced. But I do think that being a conscious consumer is a very powerful tool, because consumer dollars are the lifeblood of manufacturers. So we can either use them to tell manufacturers what to make or we can just continue to let manufacturers tell us what to buy.
Do you feel like environmentalists have been too quick to dismiss shopping as a route to change?
I think that the power of green consumerism has not been harnessed by the environmental movement. You’ve got all kinds of companies wanting to be green and natural and eco-friendly, and you’ve got the environmental movement saying, “Whatever you do, don’t buy anything.” … The light bulbs are a perfect example … people have to change their light bulbs anyway, so why not buy the option that makes the most sense? If you have people sit in the dark, that’s literally a turn-off.
Does your book address the challenges of buying green on a budget?
First of all, there’s so much cushion in people’s budget that they don’t realize. People will say to me, “I can’t buy organic; it’s too expensive,” and then I look in their refrigerator and it’s full of bottled water. They may be spending $10 to $15 a week on bottled water, but they don’t want to spend $6 for a gallon of organic milk.
How can the environmental movement change its message to be more effective?
I do think some groups are doing a pretty good job in starting to provide information … but now I think the next step is to start getting the message out to people who aren’t necessarily in the environmental community. We don’t need to talk to other environmentalists; we need to talk to garden clubs and women’s clubs and church groups and all these people who are not as fully aware of what the opportunity is.
What would be great is if Safeway would put an environmental spokesperson in the store. “On Saturday, as you’re coming through the store, there’s going to be these five people wearing green vests, and if you have any questions about green shopping, you can ask them.” Wouldn’t that be fabulous?