Chickens and Eggs
Since I came to EPEAT nearly five years ago, I’ve fielded probably a hundred calls and more emails from individual consumers saying something like “Your program is really helpful – but why can’t I find EPEAT in stores when I’m looking for a greener computer?”
We’ve had significant success with online retailers providing EPEAT ratings info – and I usually point consumers toward sites that enable search using EPEAT ratings, like Amazon.com, Best Buy for Business, Tech Depot, Buy.com.
We’re very happy that those e-commerce sites help green-minded consumers use EPEAT, but it’s still a workaround. And there’s still a chicken and egg problem here – manufacturers and retailers worry that consumers don’t care enough about electronics’ environmental impact to move the needle on buying behavior. But consumers can’t easily find environmental information, so they don’t have a real opportunity to include it in their purchasing decisions. So round and round we go…
Over the course of 2012, EPEAT will be teaming up with interested OEMs and retailers to move beyond this stalemate. Working together, we hope to develop ways to present EPEAT product rating information in stores that make it easy to understand, digest and use for decision-making. Some of that will be cosmetic – what sort of look and feel will attract and inform consumers best; some of it will be substantive – what impacts and endpoints do people respond to most strongly; and some of it will be simply awareness – how can we make the green checkmark so familiar that it becomes a natural, actionable part of product presentation?
I’ll be sharing more as this work goes forward. But for right now, if you’re buying electronics – online or in-store – and you’re asked to do a survey, we’d be grateful if you’d take five minutes and help us learn more!