Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The fight for a greener lifestyle!

Q: How can we get the average person "Joe" to contribute?

It is going to take all of us: the engineers, the government (to an extent), and consumers doing our part. The average Joe does not want to convert to greener products, change his habits, or think anything green at all if it means he has to spend more money. Engineers need to create viable substitutes that adjust to the extended interests of consumers. Everyday consumers, as it is their constituted right, have self-interests therefore in a food market/supply store, variety is essential for the consumer to choose from because that is not only what s/he likes but also because anything otherwise would be characterized as a monopoly. Joe may/may not have knowledge or care for our environmental, energy, sustainability crisis so purchasing sustainable products will not be on his mind. This means that to have the product be widely available and affordable is not enough because it all comes down to adjusting to the extended interests of consumers. So in short, other important factors of getting the average Joe/sephine to contribute is considering the quality, quantity/moneys worth, variety of sustainable products/not just one brand and most importantly how environmentally aware the consumer is. These matter because at the end of the day s/he will buy what s/he wants. This is when we must combine the economics to science. We have the ability to make green products and clean energy, we just need the demand in the market. It's truly up to the engineers to create these products that are just as user friendly and can be sold for cheaper than the current unsustainable products. But it's up to YOU, me, and communities world-wide to spread the word about going green and how purchasing sustainable products is truly making a difference.

The hardest part in making Joe contribute to ending our environmental worries is making Joe change his habits. BUT no one wants to change their energy consumption habits! And that is what makes it almost impossible. This is a problem because our current energy sources fueling America may be the cheapest but are also the dirtiest! We are in need of clean, renewable and efficient energy alternatives NOW so then we would not have to worry about Joe and the rest of humanity's bad energy consumption habits.

That is why it is so vital that companies and organizations provide greener products and promote the "going green" trend. The higher demand for these products will in turn lower their prices and then consumers like Joe would not mind purchasing the greener products - if they are affordable!

But why do we have to go this far when it should be so simple for someone to choose the greener choice to support our planet?

The main problem is when people like Joe, are so wrapped up in their content lives, they are not willing to make a change in their wallet or lifestyle. They'd rather be in denial that their habits are destructive, simply state that they "don't care", or choose to believe that they have no role in the climate process. But if greener products are more affordable and widely available, (which thankfully most are these days) then Joe and many others would be forced into the trend by taking the initiative in contributing to a cleaner planet and combating climate change simply by being a green consumer. And Joe and others are doing this not necessarily because they want to but because they wouldn't have to make a change in their habits nor their wallets and as long as it's affordable/cheaper than the unsustainable products and effortlessly available then they will continue to do so (sometimes even unknowingly).

It may sound like they are being tricked into going green but that can never be a bad thing!

For example:
My grandmother is like many from her generation, scared of "change". But if she only understood how urgent it is that we preserve our earth's beauties and precious resources she probably would think twice before slipping a plastic bottle into the garbage can. (BTW it takes an estimated 1000 years for plastic to disintegrate into the ground) Anyways, when she knows she has to go out of her way for something she will just put it down altogether and feel that it is not worth the effort. - (Stated earlier with the failure of separating recyclables and garbage.) Also a while back when I asked her to make me some vegan pancakes for breakfast, she refused to make them because they would take a little extra time with the apple sauce and the whole wheat mix in contrast to the non-vegan complete mix that contains eggs and milk. She got upset because I said forget it and now she continually mocks the vegan diet and all it stands for.

It's the extra time and the extra money that really get people going nuts but I guess the solution must all come down to persuasion. "Persuasion is not selling or convincing, it's reaching a mutually beneficial outcome." - Jay Cogner, Harvard Organizational Behavior professor

Just the other day when she was food shopping she was told that she had to pay for each plastic bag that was used to bag her items. The food market was going green. The other alternative was to get 5 cents off for every reusable bag she used. And that's when it all started. My grandmother bought a reusable bag! Yeah, pretty neat way to persuade one to go green right? She uses it all the time now too. She especially likes getting 5 cents off her purchase when using her reused bag.

Another example of being tricked into going green again or just another way to get people into the trend? Either way, it's a lovely idea of taking action!

These examples of companies making the products, stores selling them, and people buying are all strategic ways to influence environmental action!

But did you know about the governments role in sustainability?
Besides setting laws and regulations then enforcing them, the government supports green-living by offering tax-incentives!! Did you think about how much money you can save by switching to solar panels in your house? Or installing a solar water heater! How about those tax rebates from that newly purchased hybrid car? "But what is it that you say? I can even get a rebate for saving energy?? Whatttt I should totally go green!!" . . .yeah I heard you from way over there.

Now seriously guys, these are green (as in cash-saving) things you should consider.

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