Part 3: Consumed by Emotions

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.”– Theodore Roosevelt

No matter which quarter of the eco-minded community a person is from, emotion has played a large part in recruiting and maintaining their interest. The quest to save the planet takes its first step in the human heart, whether in the form of a seabird covered in crude oil or an apple covered in manufactured pesticides. Often, the battle seems ever uphill, but the crusaders carry on.

And even the staunchest defenders of the planet engage in capitalism now and then, though consumption is something many of them (aspire to) eschew. Yet consumers they largely are, though what differentiates them from the general public is their skepticism of big brands and big business. They apply a deliberate scrutiny to what they buy: its origins, its ingredients, its sustainability, and so on. We call this group the Conscious Consumers.

These are curious people, often highly educated and well traveled. They’re activists, food experimenters, natural-solution innovators, gardeners, etc. They know their ecological footprint. They tend to shop using a much weightier process than the average consumer. Much thought is given to all that precedes and follows the moment of purchase: everything that was invested in bringing the item into being and then to market, and what’s left to address after the item has served its purpose. This approach consumes fewer goods but a lot more time, effort, and consideration.

So while they WANT to feel confident in their knowledge and the decisions they make, Conscious Consumers are generally inundated by their own wealth of information. The news out there—good, bad, confusing, conflicting—overwhelms them. Behavioral responses range from a willingness to spend more on sustainable products to abstinence from buying all but the most essential goods.

In the realm of emotion, impassioned reactions span the spectrum. On the positive end, Conscious Consumers are protective of the planet and the people that matter to them; they have an earnest desire for truth, which they sometimes feel is being intentionally obscured; and they feel the urgency to act. In the face of monumental challenges, however, the Conscious Consumer can struggle to gather enough fight in themselves, and they wrestle with guilt, fear, and the sense that they’re powerless to effect any meaningful change.

There is no dissociating emotion from the Conscious Consumers’ efforts to save the world. In gaining a better understanding of what motivates them, we find the voice we need to begin and carry on a rich dialogue. And the hope is that together we’ll discover the answers that leave us all feeling good that we’re doing the right thing.

Part 2: Spirits in a Material World

Part 2: Spirits in a Material World

What is biomimicry?

Biomimicry is an innovation method that seeks sustainable solutions by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies, e.g., a solar cell inspired by a leaf. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies—new ways of living—that are well-adapted to life on earth over the long haul. 

Part 1: It’s Not Easy Defining Green

In recent years, the conversation about the relationship between humans and planet Earth has grown louder, and there’s no shortage of impassioned speakers: environmentalists, farmers, mothers, alternative energy proponents, special interest groups, protesters, minorities, liberals, hippies…. The list goes on, with new sincerely voiced subsets regularly joining the discourse.

This is becoming one of the largest movements the world has ever seen. The regard for our future as a single community crosses geographic and cultural boundaries, encompassing a large segment of the global population. The group concerned with what’s in our air might not have crossover membership with the group concerned with what’s in our food, but there’s a vague understanding that they’re cut from the same hemp cloth.

 
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People with a general eco-centric proclivity are often collectively referred to as “green”—and that’s part of the problem this movement faces in developing the focus it needs to build momentum. There are identifiers for the many parts, but not for the sum. There is, however, a commonality among them: to varying degrees, they are all consumers. And what sets some of them apart in the economic engine is the level of deliberateness they apply to what they buy: its origins, its ingredients, its sustainability.

Meet the Conscious Consumers. They’re skeptical of big brands and big business. They shun the traditional consumer approach of shopping only by price, quality, and brand loyalty. Yet the two Conscious Consumers filling their reusable shopping bags with locally grown organic apples might have entirely different motivations: One is sensitive to the ecological impact of industrial pesticides in agricultural runoff on water resources, and the other has a child with food allergies.

They might even smile at each other, sharing a power-to-the-people moment, even though they don’t know why. Such is the challenge the whole movement faces, as does our effort to reach them. We’re all speaking the same language, but dozens of dialects splinter the discussion. Nevertheless, saving the planet isn’t getting easier and the movement isn’t getting quieter—the Conscious Consumer will be heard.