Are Consumers Really Losing Interest in Green Products?

A recent headline in the Globe and Mail “Is the environmental movement dying?” may have grabbed your attention.  It sure did mine.  It was an article about a Bensimon Bryne study that says Canadian consumers are losing interest in “green” products.  A little chill ran down my spine as I read it.  Is this “déjà vu” – all over again? Are we returning to the 1990’s when the “green movement” gained and lost traction, almost overnight, to a weakened economy?

The basis of the Globe and Mail article was a poll of 1500 Canadian’s released by Bensimon

A new consumer poll says that the environment is no longer of top importance to consumers.

Bryne, a Canadian ad agency, in August, 2011.  The study identifies that in just three years, the environment has lost its status as one of the top five issues facing Canadians, with only 49 per cent ranking it as “very important”.  According to Bensimon Byrne’s report, concern has fallen significantly since 2008 (down 11 points) and ranks behind issues such as the price of gas, adequate pensions, the state of the economy and ethics in politics as issues that are very important to Canadians.

Only 23 per cent of Canadians report being “very motivated” to make personal changes to benefit the environment,  while many say it is just too expensive.

As I read this report I am reminded of a quote from author Alan Axelrod (part of my summer reading list):  “…innovation has less to do with visionary genius than it does with recognizing the relativity of your own particular point of view.”  The Bensimon Byrne report is written from a particular point of view and a particular world-view.  You and I have one of those too.  But too often we readily accept the interpretation of others, especially as it relates to complex, interconnected issues.

Over the next few blog posts I hope you will join me in deconstructing this research and its interpretation –  it is an excellent study in the “coming to consciousness” that our society is doing about sustainability.  Here is one clue – read the poll information as a response from “Canadian citizens” instead of “Canadian consumers”.   It might shift your thinking.

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About Kathryn Cooper

Kathryn Cooper is a committed sustainability practitioner and educator moving companies toward “green” profitability and sustainable competitive advantage by unlocking human creativity and technical innovation. Over the last two years she has had the privilege to work with companies like Dupont, Zerofootprint, WWF Canada, and Partners in Project Green on sustainability issues, best practices and renewable energy. Kathryn is a graduate of York University with a Master of Education specializing on Sustainability and the Environment. She holds an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Guelph.
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