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Creativity Key to Making Sustainability Mainstream April 25, 2009

Posted by aimepst in Uncategorized.

No societal ill we face today will require more creativity and innovation to resolve than climate change and the slew of problems that contribute to it (burning fossil fuels, deforestation, etc.) and that come from it (water shortages, warfare, sea level change, ocean acidification, extinction, and so on).

Fortunately, bright-eyed entrepreneurs and early adopters are jumping on the cleantech and sustainability bandwagons. But what of the rest of society? Of the suburban family? The in-debt college student? The skeptic? How we communicate the severity of climate change -and what to do about it- is crucial to the well-being of future generations. We need to update the rhetoric and products we use to promote sustainable behavior in such a way that even the environmentally-uninclined feel compelled to act in an environmentally-responsible manner.

To do so, we need to break the association between “sustainable” and “sacrifice.” Lifestyle changes are definitely in order, but they don’t need to be viewed as regressive or restricting. The key is how we think about environmental issues; climate change should be viewed not as the problem, but the opportunity.

Some companies are already thinking this way. Consider the Vinod Khosla funded company Calera Corporation, which sequesters carbon dioxide in the manufacturing of concrete. Suddenly, carbon dioxide is no longer the challenge –it’s the solution!

Sustainability has even become a fashion statement. Gracen, for example, sells reusable bags to the “eco-chic woman.” Certainly their $54+ reusable bags aren’t considered a sacrifice.

The point is the environmental movement can no longer afford to alienate people –it can’t just be an issue for the dreadlocked tree-huggers or the ultra-expensive organic heirloom tomato buyer. We need to make sustainability an option for the masses. And that’s going to take a lot of creativity and innovation.



1. yesulm - April 26, 2009

This is a very insightful post. I know its been a big challenge getting masses to buy into sustainability and I think you nailed it. We do need to make a difference between sustainability and sacrifice but better said than done right? It would be great to see what your thoughts are in how to make sustainability an option for the masses!

2. dennisideocom - April 27, 2009

wonderful post. nicely written. I was facinated to read about Calera Corp. what a concept to sequester carbon into concrete thanks for linking that in. nice work. dennis

3. johnshinozaki - April 28, 2009

Can we also say that these products need better “marketing” to change people’s views on these products? Because I think the products that are out there are quite innovative already, it’s just the marketing hasn’t been so great.

Can we as a class brainstorm some marketing ideas?
– Commercials of celebrities using the products
– Free give away bags to create a wave of users
– Have kids do school projects where they make homemade bags
– etc.

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