So it was Earth Day yesterday. And signs of it were everywhere. Yahoo turned the “O’s in its name into recycle symbols. Chevy had green ads running on the home page. Time magazine dedicated this week’s issue to going green. Whole foods suspended plastic bags at all of its stores.
Is the world changing or are we kidding ourselves?
After reading a myriad of articles, it seems that we are indeed changing. But are we changing enough? The federal government is so slow on the green cause that states are forging ahead, creating their own green policies that take action because the federal government cannot get it done.
Developing nations continue to pollute at astounding rates (that said, the US is still the largest emitter of greenhouse gases).
Alternative energy is still only funded at $5 billion by the federal government – a pittance compared to a $500 billion Iraw war and still climbing.
Oil companies still get a 16% tax break.
According to a 2006 U.N. study, there are 46,000 floating pieces of plastic per square mile of ocean (the U.S. produced 113 billion (113,000,000,000) pounds of plastic in 2006.
Is everything wrong with the US going green?
Of course not. The fed did raise the fuel efficiency to 35 mpg by the year 2020. That pales in comparison to the 40 mpg average Europe attains but it’s a step in the right direction.
California has a pilot program where customers are rewarded for using energy in off-peak periods. Average savings in energy bills are 13% because customers are shifting their energy use to times when the system has excess power.
Buildings account for 50% of greenhouse gas emissions but daring designers are working to create LEED certified buildings at a rapid rate – corporate citizens and even cities are demanding that they lead the cause to do anything to help solve the global problem.
And Whole Foods made a statement by eliminating plastic bags. Not only because of the environmental impacts, but because it cuts to the core essence of what the Whole Foods brand stands for.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
It may have been only a day, but Earth Day made an impact. From websites to the nightly news, going green was everywhere. You had to be in a cave to not get involved in the story. But there’s such a long way to go.
As retailers (you’ve heard it before), you have to get ahead of the curve. Test, test, test. Bring in a line that was created with as small a carbon footprint as possible. Ask your vendors what they’re doing to go green, then retell those stories to your customers. Create a green section of your store. Find lines that use sustainable materials. Plant a tree in front of your store. Change out your lighting. Offer your clients and customers tap instead of bottled water. The list goes on and on.
Each of us, in our own small way can make a difference. This is a process that will take time. But the more aware we are of what we can achieve, the more we’ll push forward.