Two recent posts from local Boston press got me thinking about how we are going to move forward and effectively market in the sustainability/green space.
First up, Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe, who discusses how according to certain statistics building landfills is more ecological than recycling. I’ve seen many stories in the past regarding how “green” certain initiatives are, CSAs and local farming along with recycling being the two main examples. So what’s real? Does it actually cost us more and is more harmful to recycle? These programs have been in place for decades now, and we still don’t have a definitive answer for the masses. I predict we’ll always recycle – it’s now accepted much like an urban myth, and its a catalyst for mass understanding of the potential impact each of us has on the planet. But that doesn’t necessarily make it true….
Next up is Martin LaMonica at Cnet, who discusses the idea of rapid innovation (like traditional IT approaches) vs. a longer term steady move towards energy reform. This piece gets to the heart of it – what’s the right approach, investment in new technologies or evolution of existing ones? Where do we spend our resources, both financially and (from my perspective) marketing-wise? Which is the right area to promote? Choosing the right path here is crucial…its commonly accepted that right now we’re already “behind” in the US vs. other countries on the green tech arch. Making the wrong strategic investment and pushing technologies that aren’t likely to be winners (is solar to capital-intensive? Does wind bring too little return?) dilutes our ability to succeed in the short and long-term. What’s the reality of what we have today vs. “potential” solutions?
Marketers play a critical role in shaping which technologies are accepted and valued. With heavy promotion and awareness behind it, recycling right now is accepted as the “right” thing to do. For marketers, balancing the truth and doing an effective job for their clients, especially startups in emerging markets like sustainability is a hard balancing act. Know your facts, they will come back to help or haunt you sooner or later.