Jupiterimages / Creatas / Getty Images Plus
By Marlene Cimons
When Morgan Poor gave birth to her son, she and her husband shopped around for the perfect diaper, hoping to find one that was both effective and environmentally friendly. They tried a few so-called "niche" brands, like Seventh Generation and Honest Company, which tout their green bona fides, but the diapers Poor liked best came from Pampers, a mainstream manufacturer with a line of more environmentally-friendly diapers.
"So, I'd be the anomaly in our research," she said.
An anomaly indeed. Poor, an assistant professor of marketing at San Diego University, and her research colleagues, Stacy Wood and Stefanie Robinson from North Carolina State University, were curious to know how consumers respond to green products sold by mainstream brands. They largely turned out to be the opposite of Poor.
The researchers found that shoppers shunned green products produced by mainstream brands, believing them to be less effective than their regular non-green products. In other words, if parents were set on buying Pampers, they were going to buy regular Pampers. On the other hand, consumers adamant about buying strictly green products went for the niche brands, like Seventh Generation. Their work appears in the Journal of Advertising Research.
The fact that parents would prefer standard-issue Huggies, as opposed to the green version, may reflect years of Madison Avenue ad copy promoting the wonders of chemistry. "What makes a product 'green' is often that it has more natural, earth-friendly ingredients or materials," Poor said. "Over the decades, marketers have been selling us on the effectiveness of chemicals, so I believe the perception or misperception is actually due to this conditioning."
The target audience for diapers.
At the same time, the study also suggests that there still are many shoppers — increasingly aware of the dangers of climate change and pollution — who want to buy greener products.
"It's wonderful that consumers are starting to care about and demand that companies develop and sell more environmentally-friendly products," Poor said. "If we want the mainstream brands to continue to do this though, it's important that they understand how to enter the space successfully. Our research suggests that the best strategy for these mainstream brands may be to avoid too loudly showcasing the green quality of their product lines and instead let that be a bonus that consumers learn about post-purchase."
Sonya Grier, professor of marketing at American University's Kogod School of Business, who did not take part in this study, agreed that big companies should tamp down the green branding, at least at first.
"Often, green products will lead up with the focus on sustainability and that it is green, but that says nothing about the effectiveness of the product, which is what people really want," she said. "It's like saying buy my food because it's sustainable, without saying anything about the taste."
Planet laundry detergent is marketed to consumers who worry about the environment.
To conduct their study, the researchers surveyed 565 consumers nationwide, asking them about three home pesticide brands currently on the market. These included a standard pesticide from a mainstream brand, a green product from a mainstream brand, and a totally green niche competitor. The results also showed that consumers geared toward buying green preferred the niche brand over the mainstream brand with the environmentally-friendly features. The brands were not identified in the study.
Another factor to take into account is price, the scientists said. Green products often cost more than mainstream products, so "it may not always be feasible to buy everything green that consumers may ideally want," Robinson said.
Poor pointed out, however, that many people also believe that "higher price equates to higher quality, so in that regard, one would think that higher priced green products might be perceived as more effective," Poor said.
For Poor and her husband, moving to California — and then having a baby — prompted them to make a more concerted effort to go green. "It seems like you see organic, sustainable and environmentally-friendly products being talked about a lot more here," she said.
"They also seem to be more easily accessible," she added. "Then, when my husband and I began talking about starting a family, we made a major move to clean up the products we were using, including cleaning supplies, beauty products, and even our pest services."
Poor says that in her experience, green products tend to work just as well as the standard non-green mainstream equivalents — which means manufacturers could have an opportunity to improve their bottom lines and the environment by fine-tuning how they present green products to consumers.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Nexus Media.
By Karen L. Smith-Janssen
Colette Pichon Battle gave a December 2019 TEDWomen Talk on the stark realities of climate change displacement, and people took notice. The video racked up a million views in about two weeks. The attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) advocates for climate justice in communities of color. Confronted with evidence showing how her own South Louisiana coastal home of Bayou Liberty will be lost to flooding in coming years, the 2019 Obama Fellow dedicates herself to helping others still reeling from the impacts of Katrina face the heavy toll that climate change has taken—and will take—on their lives and homelands. Her work focuses on strengthening multiracial coalitions, advocating for federal, state, and local disaster mitigation measures, and redirecting resources toward Black communities across the Gulf South.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Between 2000 and 2013, Earth lost an area of undisturbed ecosystems roughly the size of Mexico.
- Planting Projects, Backyard Habitats Can Re-Create Livable Natural ... ›
- Humans Are Destroying Wildlife at an Unprecedented Rate, New ... ›
- UN Biodiversity Chief: Humans Risk Living in an 'Empty World' With ... ›
- Scientists Warn Worse Pandemics Are on the Way if We Don't ... ›
- Coronavirus Pandemic Linked to Destruction of Wildlife and World's ... ›
By Stuart Braun
"These are not just wildfires, they are climate fires," Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, said as he stood amid the charred remains of the town of Malden west of Seattle earlier this month. "This is not an act of God," he added. "This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways."
'These Aren't Wildfires'<p>Sam Ricketts, who led climate policy and strategy for Governor Jay Inslee's 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted on September 11 that "These aren't wildfires. These are #climatefires, driven by fossil fuel pollution."</p><p>"The rate and the strength and the devastation wrought by these disasters are fueled by climate change," Ricketts told DW of fires that have burnt well over 5 million acres across California, Oregon, Washington State, and into neighboring Idaho. </p><p>In a two-day period in early September, Ricketts notes that more of Washington State burned than in almost any entire fire season until now, apart from 2015. </p><p>California, meanwhile, was a tinderbox after its hottest summer on record, with temperatures in Death Valley reaching nearly 130 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. It has been reported as the hottest temperature ever measured on Earth.</p>
<div id="29ad9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8346fe7350e1371d400097cd48bf45a2"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1306969603180879872" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Drought-parched wetlands in South America have been burning for weeks. https://t.co/pjAKdFcKPg #Pantanal https://t.co/ImN2C5vwcp</div> — NASA Earth (@NASA Earth)<a href="https://twitter.com/NASAEarth/statuses/1306969603180879872">1600440810.0</a></blockquote></div><p>As evidenced by Australia's apocalyptic Black Summer of 2019-2020, fires are burning bigger and for longer, with new records set year-on-year. Right now, Brazil's vast and highly biodiverse Pantanal wetlands are suffering from catastrophic fires.</p>
#climatefires Started in Australia<p>Governor Inslee this month invoked the phrase climate fires for arguably the first time in the U.S., according to Ricketts.</p><p>But the term was also used as fires burnt out of control in Australia in late 2019. In the face of a 2000km (more than 1,200 miles) fire front, and government officials and media who <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/trump-climate-change-denial-emissions-environment-germany-fake-heartland-seibt/a-52688933" target="_blank">played down the link to climate change</a>, Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and a friend decided that reference to bushfires was inadequate. </p><p>"We both just said, we've got to start calling them climate fires, that's what they are," the Australian Senator told DW.</p><p>Hanson-Young says scientists have been warning for decades that these would be the effects of global heating. "We've been told these kinds of extreme weather events and destruction is what climate change would look like, and it's right here on our doorstep," she said from her home state of South Australia — where by early September fire warnings had already been issued.</p><p>"Calling them climate fires was making it absolutely crystal clear. It is essential that there's no ambiguity," she said </p><p>Having deliberately invoked the term, Hanson-Young soon started to push it on social media via a #climatefires hashtag. </p>
How to Talk About the Urgency of Global Heating<p>The need to use more explicit language when talking about extreme weather events linked to climate change is part of a broader push to express the urgency of global heating. In 2019, activist Greta Thunberg tweeted that the term "climate change" did not reflect the seriousness of the situation. </p><p>"Can we all now please stop saying 'climate change' and instead call it what it is: climate breakdown, climate crisis, climate emergency, ecological breakdown, ecological crisis and ecological emergency?" she wrote. </p><p>"Climate change has for a long time been talked about as something that is a danger in the future," said Hansen-Young. "But the consequences are already here. When people hear the word crisis, they understand that something has to happen, that action has to be taken."</p><p><span></span>Some terms are now used in public policy, with state and national governments, and indeed the EU Parliament, declaring an official climate emergency in the last year. </p>
Words That Reflect the Science<p>But while the West Coast governors all fervently link the fires to an unfolding climate crisis, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to avoid any reference to climate. In a briefing about the fires, he responded to overtures by Wade Crowfoot, California's Natural Resources Secretary, to work with the states on the climate crisis by stating: "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch." Crowfoot replied by saying that scientists disagreed. Trump rejoined with "I don't think science knows, actually." </p><p>It was reminiscent of the anti-science approach to the coronavirus pandemic within the Trump administration, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/donald-trump-admits-playing-down-coronavirus-risks/a-54874350" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at least publicly</a>. Fossil fuel companies are also benefiting from his disavowal of climate science, with the Trump administration having <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-trumps-paris-climate-accord-exit-isnt-really-a-problem/a-51124958" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pulled out of the Paris Agreement</a> and reopened fossil fuel infrastructure like the Keystone XL pipeline. </p><p>But the science community has responded, with Scientific American magazine endorsing Trump's Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden, the first presidential endorsement in its 175-year history. </p><p>Hanson-Young says the use of explicit language like climate fires has also been important in Australia due to the climate denialism of politicians and the press, especially in publications owned by Rupert Murdoch. As fires burnt out much of Australia's southeast coast, they were commonly blamed on arson — a tactic also recently used in the U.S.</p>
Climate Rhetoric Could Help Decide Election<p>The language of climate has begun to influence the U.S. presidential election campaign, with Democratic nominee Joe Biden labelling President Trump a "climate arsonist."</p><p>Biden is touting a robust climate plan that includes a 2050 zero emissions target and a return to the Paris Agreement. Though lacking the ambition of The New Green Deal, it has been front and center of his policy platform in recent days, at a time when five hurricanes are battering the U.S. Gulf Coast while smoke blanketing the West Coast spreads all the way to the East. </p><p>People are experiencing the climate crisis in a visceral way and almost universally relate to the language of an emergency, says Ricketts. "They know something is wrong."</p>
- The Vicious Climate-Wildfire Cycle - EcoWatch ›
- How Climate Change Ignites Wildfires From California to South Africa ›
- 31 Dead, 250,000 Evacuated in California Fires as Governor ... ›
World's Richest One Percent Are Producing More Than Double the Carbon Emissions as the Bottom 50 Percent
A new report from Oxfam found that the wealthiest one percent of the world produced a carbon footprint that was more than double that of the bottom 50 percent of the world, The Guardian reported. The study examined 25 years of carbon dioxide emissions and wealth inequality from 1990 to 2015.
If you are taking medication for an underactive thyroid, check your prescription.