Sunday, January 15, 2012

Is Green Going Grey?


Someone asked me recently if the green movement was losing its momentum. Well, according to Google Trends, words like "sustainability," "green design," "green buildings" and "LEED" are not being searched for as often these days. In fact, it looks like the peak search year for these topics was around 2008/2009. Since then, these words are still being "Googled" but not as often. (Google Trends searches new media, blogs and general search terms. It's a pretty good indicator of general interest.)

And it's true that many companies have had to put their big green initiatives on hold given the slowdown in the economy - that new solar array on the roof, buying a fleet of hybrid cars or installing a new building monitoring system - it's just not happening this year. But that doesn't mean companies haven't forgotten about the principals of being sustainable or their impact on the environment. If anything, companies are moving past the "green bling" and starting to internalize what it really means to be sustainable as a business - which often overlaps with what it really means to be sustainable in the environmental sense. Doing more with less. Considering the real cost of global growth. Being considerate of the social and environmental risks along with financial ones.

Much of the recent green movement, in my view, has been a lot of fun - I'm the first to flock to those new green gadgets - but buying green stuff is not really the right mindset if we're serious about this whole sustainability thing. I think, in this time of economic duress, we're having to be better stewards of resources, which is, in turn switching on little LED light bulbs in our heads. Because we don't have a lot of extra cash lying around, we're more thoughtful with our choices, we're thinking about getting more bang for the buck and stretching our dollars just a wee bit more. That is the mindset that makes us better stewards of our business assets, but also of our selves, our families, our communities and the Planet.

And yes, green may be going a bit grey, but I like to think it is from maturity, not from a lack of interest.

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