Green Schools – bringing it home
Talking with concerned parents, students, teachers and administrators at the Green Schools National Conference in Denver this week has renewed my appreciation of the intense grassroots activity all around the country focused on reducing environmental impact and greening daily life.
This group is bubbling over with the desire to redirect their schools’ focus and purchasing dollars to environmentally friendly alternatives – schoolyard gardens, energy efficient lighting, environmental education, and yes, greener electronics.
Discussing with them the importance they place on directing their dollars to products and services that help reduce their environmental footprint – at home and at school – I’m struck by the disconnect between this passionate desire to find positive alternatives and many companies’ uncertainty about actively promoting greener products to consumers.
We’ve all seen the mixed messages in the consumer research – on the one hand desire to find greener products, on the other the skepticism bred by years of loose and even false environmental claims, and on the third hand (?) the cost factor trumping other concerns. And it’s easy to understand why these conflicting findings, coupled with the complexities of accurately and effectively communicating environmental information, have slowed even many environmentally responsible companies’ consumer-facing promotion of green attributes.
But it’s crucial to break through the impasse, so that the significant pool of consumers looking for credibly vetted environmentally preferable products can find them without a lot of extra effort, and lead the way fro broader uptake. And it’s important that we help them understand, as institutional purchasers do, that environmentally preferable means just that – not perfect but incrementally better, moving the needle in the right direction. That’s why I’m so excited about the work we’re beginning with retailers and OEMs on how to best communicate the environmental value of products that meet the EPEAT criteria. Stay tuned…