Published November 04, 2011
Walk down any grocery store aisle or even department store, and you’ll be bombarded with green products. From dish detergent to baby wipes, to organic T-shirts and yoga mats, it seems as if every company is looking to grab a piece of the “green” pie. But not all consumers are buying.
Although the green movement has gained steam over the years, not everyone has gotten on board about reducing their carbon footprint.
Green lifestyle expert Danny Seo says the main reason people choose not to buy green products is simple: they’re selfish.
If there is not a tangible benefit to wearing organic cotton, or changing to organic bedding, Seo says people literally will not buy into it.
"All you know is that you have done something better for the planet. We are selfish, and want to know what we are getting out of it. That is why something like organic cotton will never work, because there is no direct link to why people should want to do this."
The surge in gas prices in recent years made hybrid vehicles become much more attractive to consumers because they showed buyers their savings instantly when filling up at the pump. They aren’t necessarily making the switch to save the economy, rather to save their wallets. The savings on something like an LED bulb, which cost between $30-$50 a bulb and last four to five years, don’t really give instant gratification.
Sustainability was often tied to luxury when first marketed about five years ago, according to Seo, and it didn't feel accessible to the general public.
"Things like the Lexus Hybrid or Tiffany's sustainable diamond collection, they were the loudest and got the most attention. Shopping at Whole Foods, people think it costs more. There is a whole misconception out there.”
Amy Todisco, green living expert, points to product confusion as to why more consumers aren’t jumping on the green band wagon. There are so many different messages and products claiming to be green that it’s too over overwhelming to consumers, Todisco argues.
"There is a lot of information, and a lot of it is conflicting. People are not sure what to trust or what to use, it's hard for consumers to figure out."
Already worried about the economy, their job security and their budgets, adding the concern of “going green” can be too much for consumers.
"It's not the highest priority for people," Todisco says. "Unless they connect emotionally with it, or its connected to a personal concern, they may not want to have a greener lifestyle."
Todisco started living a more eco-friendly lifestyle nearly 20 years ago, when she was pregnant with her daughter, because she wanted her baby to be as healthy as possible, proving Seo's "selfish" argument as to why people want to make green choices. Todisco agrees and adds there may be some stubbornness in the public toward this movement.
"If they don't feel like their actions are making a difference, then why bother? In some ways, the advocates of green living have to pick their battles—its promoting things rather than banning them."
Green shouldn't be thrust upon the public through initiatives without incentives, Seo says. If you want people to buy into a program, or convert to green living, they need a reason.
"The problem with that mentality is that it is a medicine approach," Seo says. "You are going green because it is good for you, so you are being forced to take your green medicine. You need to put a big old spoonful of sugar on top of that in order to take it."