To move towards a sustainable economy, consumers need to want it and that’s a challenge for communication professionals
Advertisers have long since abandoned any effort to sell their wares on the basis of functional performance. Instead, they sell on the basis of dreams, of myths – speaking about our feelings rather than the facts.
In the myths of advertising, cars are not devices for moving slowly among thousands of other cars from one shop, school or office to another: instead they are expressions of personal identity that streak along deserted mountain passes, glide through chrome-plated Bladerunner cityscapes and jauntily position us at the centre of an unbearably exciting social life. And food is not a source of nutrition consumed in hurried mouthfuls between one demand and another: it is an opportunity for happy family time, or for luxurious indulgence, or for helping us to be thin.
Eco-labeling provides consumers with socially and environmentally friendly choices, but it also encourages even more consumption.
Across the globe the concept of sustainable consumption is being touted as the way of the future, a change in lifestyle and values that promises “green growth”–Across the globe the concept of sustainable consumption is being touted as the way of the future, a change in lifestyle and values that promises “green growth”– economic growth that doesn’t hurt the environment. Though not without obstacles and controversy, this concept has been embraced by policymakers, consumers, and industry. The idea is that, by providing consumers with a choice of products reflecting their new environmental values, the market will self-regulate its way towards a more sustainable future, one in which supermarket shelves are lined with ecologically friendly products, and workers in developing countries are receiving fair wages for their labor. Eco-labeling, taxes on water and energy consumption, recycling incentives, education and communication campaigns, and advertising are examples of methods to promote sustainable consumption, all of which are endorsed by the OECD.
If someone is already working on the list of climate heroes for 2013, I’d like to add another candidate – Angie Kim. You probably never heard of her, but let me tell you this – a single letter she wrote earlier this month could prove more effective in weakening the fossil fuel industry than Bill McKibben’s divestment campaign.
In her letter of February 13, Ms. Kim, who is attorney-adviser at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) notified PNC that it doesn’t approve PNC’s request to omit a climate change shareholder proposal submitted by Boston Common Asset Management. In this proposal PNC was asked to provide its shareholders its “assessment of the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from its lending portfolio and its exposure to climate change risk in its lending, investing, and financing activities.”