Monday, June 02, 2008

Another day, another demographic

What is your 'green' level?

Hardly a day goes by without some highly paid research group releasing some whatever results. This time, our cross-pond cousins...

Some Consumers Green in Action, Others in Theory

I'm wishing now I had started listing them as we go along, because at the rate we're going we'll each have our own personal term... to go with our own personal green guide to help us on the path of eco-righteousness. Not sure being a member of a green group should be an essential to being Good Green In Practice.

I have to say, I quite like the notion of the 'Un-Green', but only as a term, mind.



Greenerchoices - NEW - The lowdown on low-VOC paints
Indy - Eco Paints

Information - paint coverage calculator

Lili - Courtesy of Dave from Solarventi


Several years ago, mainly for reasons of cost, we opted to replace our windows with PVC-U units.

What troubled me subsequently was discovering that this was not considered an eco option, despite them being airtight fits with double-glazing, etc, and hence making a big difference to our insulation and heating needs.

The cost factor was against other options such as wood, which sadly were in the realms of funny money.

As a key component in our homes, I think this material deserves a category of its own to track the latest news and views.


PRW - PVC-U windows win green rating - A positive, it would seem, and my reason for kicking off this rating as I'd been feeling bad about my choices.


Chip & Dim

What seems to me another idiotic source of waste is highlighted.

Chipping away at high fuel costs

If cars can have their fuel economy and performance improved, however, why are the manufacturers not performing the operation at the factory gates? The answer is that like any product that is sold worldwide, car makers must produce performance figures that are consistent whether the car is driven in Abu Dhabi or Aylesbury. Because of this, and in order to get past the Single Vehicle Approval test (which forces cars to conform to British safety standards), car makers set the engine parameters to the lowest common denominator so it will perform equally well with low-grade fuel or bad servicing in, for example, eastern Europe, as it will in Britain.

At risk of sounding daft, if there is more mileage to be had by these methods, why on earth would it not be incorporated as a matter of course, and hence an immediate campaign launched to change the daft law/requirement that has created this wasteful situation? Lots more is done for much less.

Getting God on your side

It's an often invoked incentive. I am less sure about how it's serving in t'other direction.

Bishop compares those who ignore climate change to Josef Fritzl

We've had it from the Vatican and now The Bishop of Stafford adds hsi valued opinion to imspire and effect the necessary engagement from the global flock. Not.

NEWS/Commercial PR - Good news... and less so

It's a survey Jim, but a tad more than we usually know it.

I got from this - Packaging helps supermarkets bag top spots in green poll - in the Guardian, to this from a wee while while ago, but still of interest, especially in comparison:

Research by WPP companies reveals UK consumers ripe for green business

As posted, E&EO:

A UK survey of 1,525 British adults found that although support for many green ideas is now mainstream, understanding of what it means to be green is shallow, confused and easily swayed by company messages. The Body Shop is the UK green brand of the year, according to the survey. It is viewed as far and away the most green company against brands in the eight tested categories. Next in line came car company Smart which manufactures small chic urban run-arounds. Others in the top twenty UK green brands include three supermarkets, two petrol companies and an airline. “There is no doubt that the universal adoption of basic green ideas has been possibly the swiftest shift in consumer attitudes we have witnessed in recent times. It has certainly been faster than the internet revolution and faster than the take-up of mobile phones,” said Phil Gandy, Planning Director of Landor Associates. “It is now almost the unquestioned norm that we all embrace some shade of green philosophy and behaviour. Yet just a year ago, the green agenda was out on the lunatic fringe for most people,” he added. The research also paints a picture of British consumers as deeply concerned and pessimistic about the state of the environment but not quite sure what to do about it. Climate change is seen as the most important environmental issue we face by two thirds of those questioned and more than seventy per cent of those asked rate society’s performance in addressing the issue as neutral or worse. Other environmental concerns include population growth, technology and international trade. Government is widely perceived to be ineffective in driving a green agenda. And in a clear warning to businesses that choose to ignore the environment, eighty per cent of those questioned believe that it is important that companies are environmentally friendly. However when it comes to defining what exactly being ‘green’ means in terms of their own behaviour, consumers have a rosy but confused view. The primary focus is on reducing their waste rather than reducing consumption. So over half of respondents reported driving cars that are fuel efficient, and most wash their cars by hand and without a hosepipe these days. The next most common green behaviour is recycling plastic bags followed by use of products that do not deplete the ozone layer. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions comes third, while ‘supporting organisations that protect the rain forest’ comes fourth. “It is clear that being green means different things to different people,” says Gandy. “There is a general awareness of an urgent problem and there is widespread belief that we are all part of that problem. But consumers have not yet come to the view that they need to address their consumption. It seems that most of us are still thinking in terms of reducing waste – throwing away less, rather than consuming less.” The research found that we may be very interested in greenness but when it comes to companies and brands, many can’t identify what that means. Twenty-three per cent of the population could not identify any steps a company should take to make itself green. Nonetheless companies that promote themselves as green or present themselves as ethically concerned can reap substantial rewards. Green brands are perceived as having higher quality and consumers say they are prepared to pay a ‘green premium’ for them. Six in ten for instance will spend more on energy saving household appliances. “The onus is squarely on brands to take a lead in setting the green agenda,” adds Gandy. “The almost universal take-up of recycling in the UK shows how people will get involved, if actions they can take to make a difference are made clear and simple to understand.” But the study also reveals that many of the brands widely perceived by the public as green simply include the colour green in their logo or use more natural packaging for their products. Overall winner The Body Shop has long used both the colour green and ‘alternative’ packaging. Said Gandy, “Just how consumers judge the greenness of brands is a complex mixture of perception and reality. Being seen to be ethically concerned is important but just being ‘modern and likeable’ – like Virgin or Google – can be enough to bestow a powerful green halo effect. “What is certainly clear is that consumers want to do the right thing but need genuine help to carry through into action. Brands which align themselves with environmental concerns at this relatively early stage of the debate can expect to secure a competitive advantage given that environmental concern can only grow in future.”

Industry ranking by greenness:
1. Body care 2. Grocery 3. Appliances 4. Automotive 5. Energy/Petroleum 6. Banking 7. Online Technology 8. Travel

Top 20 UK Green Brands:
1. The Body Shop 2. Smart 3. Waitrose 4. The Co-operative Bank 5. Tesco 6. Marks & Spencer 7. Dyson 8. Sainsury’s 9. BP 10. Aveda 11. Asda 12. Toyota 13. Virgin Atlantic 14. Nivea 15. Shell 16. Indesit 17. Npower 18. Bosch 19. Google 20. Eurostar

Time for a change on change?

As we're on an alliterative roll.

Cooling on warming

At first when I read this I thought... easy Tiger, what's all this past tense lark?

But it was... is worth reading on. Lots to digest, agree with, but also some still to crank an eyebrow at.

For instance I very much doubt climate change can be tackled through research and adaptation, and do believe that trying to transform human behaviour needs to stay on the menu. Just, not in the cack-handed way that has been tried by most advocates to date.

Which rather makes me worried that we end up with different, or differently spun messages, but from the same bunch of messengers who have seen fit to be our global nannies to date.

An d I mean virtually the entire political, academic and media establishment. Huge quantities of hot air were pumped out, and many tonnes of pollutants were expelled by planes carrying concerned dignitaries to global conferences. Last I looked, by the by, they still are. But however vast, they were also piecemeal, and remain so. From front pages in this paper to Milliband interviews on Newsnight about 'the single greatest thread...yadayada...' little forays soared and were dropped at the first sign of a Royal misbehaving or a pol mis-speaking. So if you lot can't stay interested, why should the rest even start getting concerned?

Especially when the current crop of messengers are pushing such contradictory messages from, as you say, digging up more oil to buy a vote or two, or flogging a getaway to the sun on the side to help keep the group profits up.

And whilst accepting the 'most of us' disclaimer, enough of the 'we'. I am certainly not impressed by sanctimonious gestures, nor have I attended the occasional concert of clapped-out superstars.

So yes, it's time to get real. An odd admission that, until now, few Ministers, Editors and Directors of Climate Advocacy have.

But dealing with gunk seems a rather short term fix if pursued at the total expense of cutting back on making it in the first place. Especially with that dratted population thing that was all the rage last week.

So I think both should be pursued, but perhaps with a little less of the target-meeting, box-ticking, pedestal-standing, finger-waving, guilt-tripping, fine-imposing, fear-inducing rampant hypocrisy from a whole industry - political, academic, activist and media - making hay, lots and lots of hay, while the sun shines ever hotter.

And yes, a bit more sensible, practical research that can give the people information they can trust and get behind. I saw a claim on Newsnight a wee while ago that to truly come up with definite answers on climate we'd need 1,000 times more support for the modelling.

Not sure if that was not just another nifty BBC-parroted Press Release from the research community to put their kids through college, but if true I'd say go for it. Now.

If (and it's a biggie) we can see where we are, where we'll be and what we can credibly do about it, I think you'll find a lot more folk go straight through hand wringing to action. The action just has to add up though.

Us, us, us

It seems a shame that sensible discussion on climate change seems to have been turned into factional media spats.

Whose eco-disaster is it, anyway?

It seems simply incredible that the whole issue breaks down so simply, and divisively, on such clear cut, and unfortunate lines.

Why do I suspect the engagement will be more between the media protagonists, when serving the public, and the cause of the future, less well.