Thursday, August 19, 2010

ORANGE ALERT, BROWNIE POINTS & GREEN BEHAVIOUR

Consumers will be willing to pay premium for a direct tangible benefit of a green product, if it reduces exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals at home

GREEN BEHAVIOUR – WHY PEOPLE FAKE IT Dominic Green, the villain in the Bond movie Quantam of Solace, has been portrayed as a fake environmentalist who wants to control water resources under the fa├žade of a social reformer. He owns an eco-resort called the Greene Planet Hotel which he uses to distract people from his scheme to seize valuable water resources. But he is not alone; many can keep his company. People who regularly recycle rubbish and save energy at home are also the ones to take frequent long haul flights. Being green may be part of the desired image; eco-chics wear a halo around them. But another part of the desired profile pushes one to buy a bigger car. Similarly in a hurry to turn green, the definition of an environmentally safe product at times is given a misty cover. A Bombay based company uses polystyrene instead of wood. Dubbed Woodsaver, the pencils should help reduce consumption of about 250 acres of trees used every year by the company. But plastic pencils are no more environment friendly than those made from wood. It is merely a tradeoff between cutting trees and the creation of plastic garbage, which is non biodegradable. So it adds to the permanent litter. Greenwashing, is it?

Faking it is more common in making green claims than in sex! Yet the facts are staring at us starkly in the face. 2009 was the hottest year recorded in India. In fact, of the 12 hottest years in the last 108 years, 8 belong to the past decade. There is a real livelihood that the generation next may never be able to enjoy the sensuous thrill of an oyster washed down with cool, crisp white wine. The treat of battered cod with chips-well, since all fishing stocks will have collapsed by 2048 – would become part of the folklore. There is now a well established case for behaving responsibility, embrace green values.

According to University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, overall people around the world have grown happier during the past three decades. But beyond a certain point, the same research says, material wealth does not boost happiness. US, which ranked 16, has largely stalled in happiness gains – this despite growing buying power. Americans are now twice as rich as they were in 1950, but not more happier. A wrong headed approach to seeking happiness through over consumption is exacerbating some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems. Worse, so called extrinsic values (wealth, power, fame) as opposed to values (adventure, engagement) seem to go hand in hand with more environmentally destructive behaviour. According to Tim Kasser of Knoxx College, Illinois people who are more extrinsically oriented tend to use motorised transport more, buy second hands less, and recycle little. Nations with more individualistic and materialistic values also tend to be more destructive ecologically.


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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2010.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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